Getting kids to eat less may be as simple as making sure they get a good night’s sleep.
In recent months I’ve told you about several new studies on kids and sleep, and the latest one deals with the link between adequate sleep and obesity.
Researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia followed a group of kids between the ages of 8 and 11, and found that increasing the amount of sleep decreased the kids food intake.
Temple professor Chantelle Hart points out the study was short-term and only involved about 40 kids. She says the next step is looking at whether getting more sleep over a longer period might have even more dramatic effect on weight.
Dr. David Katz at Yale University is optimistic. He says, “The evidence is incredibly strong and consistent that a short list of lifestyle factors has a phenomenal influence on weight, health and even gene expression.”
That list includes physical activity, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, getting enough sleep and reducing stress.
In the United States, more than one third of children and teens are overweight or obese, which puts them at risk of serious health problems in adulthood.
In the Temple study the children who slept more ate less, an average 134 fewer calories a day. They also had lower morning levels of the hormone leptin, which has been tied to appetite regulation.
While adults can get by with eight hours of sleep, children and teens need more, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
School-aged children should sleep 10 to 11 hours a night, while teens need 9 to 9-1/2 hours.
To learn more about childhood obesity and what you can do to prevent it in your child, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website at aap.org.
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