Too little sleep early on in life results in higher risk of obesity in children, so says a university study. A study conducted by the University of California and University of Washington looked at 1930 children aged 0 to 13 years old twice, first in 1997, and again in 2002. Apparently, the study suggests there is a pattern between sleep time and obesity in younger children.
The survey found that children < 4 years old, who slept less than 10 hours a night at the first survey, were nearly twice as likely to be overweight by the time of the second survey. The older children above 4 years old at the time of the first survey did not appear to show any correlation between their sleep time and their weight at the time of the second survey.
The researchers infer from the survey that weight problems may have part of their roots in poor sleep patterns early on in life, and therefore makes it all the more important that young children get adequate sleep during the early years.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that:
- Teens should get 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep per night
- 5-10 year olds should get 10-11 hours per night
- 3-5 year olds should get 11-13 hours per night
- 1-3 year olds should get 12-14 hours per night
I’m not entirely convinced that reduced sleep in the early years will surely lead to obesity, but what is happening today is that children are not sleeping as much as children 50 years ago. And obesity among kids is indeed on the rise.
What might be happening in kids (as in adults), is lack of sleep often increases the hormone ghrelin (appetite hormone) and decreases leptin (satiation hormone), leading to increased appetite – which then leads to increased food intake.