Too little sleep can increase a child’s risk of obesity, British researchers report.
“Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes which is also on the increase in children,” said study co-author Michelle Miller, of the University of Warwick in England.
“The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor [or marker] of future obesity,” Miller said in a university news release.
For the study, her team reviewed 42 studies that included more than 75,000 children. The kids, age 18 and younger, were followed for about three years.
Those children who got less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age group gained more weight. And they were 58 percent more likely to become overweight or obese than those who got adequate sleep, according to the researchers.
“The results showed a consistent relationship across all ages, indicating that the increased risk is present in both younger and older children,” Miller said.
“The study also reinforces the concept that sleep deprivation is an important risk factor for obesity, detectable very early on in life,” she added, although the research only showed an association rather than a cause-and-effect link.
The study appears in the April print issue of the journal Sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation in the United States recommends that infants (4-11 months) get between 12 to 15 hours of nightly sleep. Toddlers (1-2 years) should get 11 to 14 hours of sleep, preschoolers (3-5 years) need 10 to 13 hours and school-aged children (6-13 years) should sleep nine to 11 hours. Teenagers (14-17 years) should try for eight to 10 hours.