We all know that sleep is important for good health, but could it be a key element in helping to combat the obesity epidemic? A few recent studies have suggested as much, one of the most recent ones being from the Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Temple University, looked at the calorie consumption and sleep patterns of children.
Thought to be the first to look at eating behaviors and sleep patterns in children by manipulating sleep times, the study included a total of 37 children between the ages of 8 ad 11, 27% of which were obese. Set to appear in a forthcoming issue of Pediatrics, the study lasted a total of three weeks.
During all three weeks, researchers weighed the children and asked them what they had eaten each day. Children were also tested to determine fasting levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and is closely linked to body fat.
The first week, children slept as normal, but on the second and third weeks, their schedule was altered. Researchers randomly chose which week children slept less or more time, but all children did one week of less sleep and one week of more sleep.
When comparing results with the week of reduced sleep to the week of more sleep, children reported consuming an average of 134 calories less per day when they slept more. Also, they weighed a half a pound less at the end of that week, and they had lower levels of leptin in their blood.
According to Chantelle Hart, associate professor of public health at Temple’s CORE, and first author on the study, the results are still early, but intervention with sleep does look promising.
“Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children’s sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity,” Hart told Medical News Today. “The potential role of sleep should be further explored.”
This isn’t the first study to suggest a link between obesity and lack of sleep. In 2011, a New Zealand study suggested that lack of sleep in children resulted in an increased chance of obesity. And earlier this year, U.S. researchers shared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a lack of sleep in adults was linked to an increase in weight.
Of course, there are many reasons to get more sleep at night, so, in the words Professor Hart says:
“Given all its documented benefits, in many ways, you can’t lose in promoting a good night’s sleep.”
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