April 8, 2008

Amount of Sleep Connected to Childhood Obesity

A Harvard study has found that babies and toddlers that sleep less than 12 hours each day are more at risk for being overweight in preschool. The link between sleep and obesity affects young children too, as well as teenagers and adults. Children that slept the least and watched the most amount of television had the greatest chance of obesity.

Previous studies have found that people that don’t get enough sleep produce more ghrelin, which is a hormone that promotes hunger. They also produce less leptin, which is a hormone that signals to the body that they are full and have had enough to eat. Watching television promotes obesity because it can take time away from doing activities that burn calories. The more active a child is the better they will sleep at night.

It is good advice to create a regular schedule for sleep for children and babies. Infants can be taught to sleep on their own by putting them to bed when they are drowsy but not completely asleep.

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