Increase Sleep to Fight Childhood Obesity

Fight fat with more time in the sack! That’s the advice of sleep researchers who have been studying the impact of sleep on appetite. In addition to food choices and activity levels, sleep appears to play a significant role in obesity. Parents who want to help their children — and themselves — keep their weight under control should make sure they receive adequate sleep.

In a recent study conducted at Columbia University’s New York Obesity Research Center, people who had only 4 hours of sleep consumed significantly more calories the next day than those who had 9 hours of sleep. With less sleep, caloric intake increased by an average 300 calories, with men consuming 263 additional calories the next day and women, 329 calories.

The body’s production of two hormones may be at the root of the problem. When deprived of sleep, our bodies produce more ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite. At the same time, we produce less leptin, a hormone that makes us feel full after eating. The hormonal imbalance becomes more pronounced with chronic sleep loss.

Over the past 30 years, the number of children who are considered obese has tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17% of American children and 34% of adults are obese. Obese children have an 80% greater risk of becoming obese adults. A few extra hours of sack time every night could decrease those odds.

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