Children who get less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age are at a higher risk of developing obesity.
A recent study by the University of Colorado, involving 177,000 children aged 8 to 17 years, found that insufficient sleep was associated with unhealthy dietary habits, such as skipping breakfast, the consumption of fast food. and eating sugary foods. It was also found to be associated with being overweight or obese.
Similar research suggests that insufficient sleep causes a hormonal imbalance, promoting the release of more hunger hormones and lowering the amount of hormones that tell your body you are full. It also seems to contribute to insulin resistance.
“The more hours you remain awake, the more likely you will spend your time eating and craving food. Our bodies are made so that we function during the day and rest at night.”
The recommended amount of sleep for children between the ages of six and 13 is usually between nine to 11 hours per night.
“Adolescents actually need more sleep than adults because they are developing so they need more sleep than we think. I would love to see children here go to bed at 9pm at the latest and wake up at 6am for school.”
About 340 million children of school age and 41 million below the age of five worldwide are overweight or obese, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.
The prevalence of obesity has increased world-wide and the World Health Organization has now declared it a global epidemic. The paper’s authors stress that whilst healthy eating and exercise are important this study demonstrates that getting enough sleep is equally important. They suggest that educational programmes could be used to empower parents and children to maximise their sleep quantity.