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Lack of Sleep in Childhood Leads to Later Obesity, Study Finds

Lack of Sleep in Childhood Leads to Later Obesity, Study Finds

Researchers found that children who had the lowest amount sleep at aged 5 and 6 had 60 percent to 100 percent increased odds of obesity by age 15.

Data also revealed that "those who suffered sleep-related breathing problems such as snoring and sleep apnea faced a higher risk of later obesity," according to an article on HealthDay.com.

"What isn't clear from the study, however, is whether the sleep issues actually cause obesity, or if something else might explain the association between sleep problems and obesity," the article said.

According to the article researchers in the study analyzed data from about 1,900 children in the UK. The researchers followed-up on the children for 15 years.

The study found that "children who got too little sleep at other ages were not at increased risk for obesity." It also found that "those with the most severe sleep-related breathing problems were twice as likely to become obese by ages 7, 10 and 15."

"In recent years, lack of sleep has become a well-recognized risk for childhood obesity," said study author Karen Bonuck, a professor of family and social medicine, and obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "We know that the road to obesity often begins early in life. Our research strengthens the case that insufficient sleep and SDB [sleep-disordered breathing] -- especially when present early in childhood -- increase the risk for becoming obese later in childhood."

Bonuck said that if impaired sleep in childhood is shown to cause future obesity, "it may be vital for parents and physicians to identify sleep problems early, so that corrective action can be taken and obesity prevented."

"With childhood obesity hovering at 17 percent in the United States, we're hopeful that efforts to address both of these risk factors could have a tremendous public health impact," Bonuck said.

The study was published on Dec. 11 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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