Lack of Sleep Puts Children at Risk for Obesity

active child

New research suggests that children who do not get enough sleep at night are at risk for becoming overweight. Investigators believe this is because insufficient sleep results in lower energy levels coupled with a biological drive for high-calorie foods.

Dr. Fiona Healy, a pediatric consultant from Dublin’s Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, reported that she’s seeing more and more children with weight issues where the significant factors include lack of sleep or poor sleep quality.

Research showed that there was a 58% increased risk of becoming overweight in children who slept less than 11 hours. Because sleep is needed for growth—both physically and emotionally—it’s critical for children’s development that they get an adequate amount of restful sleep.

Just as with adults, one big problem children face is the night time use of electronics, which can negatively affect sleep, ultimately affecting their weight and health.

In one study, approximately 45% of nine-year-olds reported having a TV in their bedrooms, and 66% reported watching between one and three hours of television a day. In addition, 10% of children surveyed watched TV for more than three hours each day.

Parents can help their children get ready for bed by following these guidelines:

Create a bedtime routine: Take at least 30 minutes to wind down, making sure your children aren’t particularly active during this time. Taking a warm bath, reading a story, or listening to calming music are all options to help them relax.

Remove the screens: Turn off all TVs, laptops, game systems, tablets, and phones at least an hour before bedtime, and be sure to keep electronics out of your bedrooms altogether.

Design a sleep-enhancing environment: Make sure your children’s bedrooms are dark, quiet, comfortable and cool at night, and insure that their  beds are clean and comfortable.

Get the adequate amount: Each person’s sleep needs varies, but school-aged children generally need 9-11 hours of sleep each night.

Prioritizing sleep for your children means prioritizing sleep for your family. When children are able to focus their attention on school and have more energy for exercise and fun, parents are better able to focus at work without the added stress and worry about the health and wellbeing of their family.

For more information on how to spot and treat childhood and family sleep problems, contact FusionHealth, the leader in providing sleep health solutions that deliver lasting results to employees, their families and their companies.

Safefood Press Release:
Temple Street Hospital:
Herald Article: