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Warwick research concludes sleep-deprived children are more likely to be obese

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick’s Medical School has highlighted the link between sleep deprivation and childhood obesity. The study revealed that children are 58% more likely to be overweight if they receive less than the recommended hours of sleep.

The authors reviewed 42 population studies, covering subjects aged from newborn to 18 years old and identified a consistent relationship across all ages that indicated an increased risk for short sleepers. These are defined as children who get less than the recommended hours of nightly sleep. This study is of particular importance as it includes the prospective longitudinal studies identifying the development of obesity in later years.

Co-author of the study, Dr Miller, advised parents to “be aware of how much sleep their child needs and establish an appropriate bedtime.”

Children are 58% more likely to be overweight if they receive less than the recommended hours of sleep

Miller notes that children “also need to avoid caffeine in the evening and make sure the bedroom is a comfortable sleeping environment. It needs to be dark and quiet and around 18-20°C in temperature.” Researchers advised that having comfortable beds and bedding also helps. More advice includes avoiding blue light from electronic devices for an hour before sleep, as well as reading a book, or listening to relaxing music.

In 2016, 41 million children under the age of five around the world were estimated to be overweight or obese according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is no wonder then that childhood obesity has been declared a global pandemic with increasing pressure being put on government bodies to acknowledge and tackle this issue over the long term. Children suffering from obesity are unlikely to outgrow their weight problem, leading to lifelong physical and mental health complications, thus making it even important that we recognise this as a serious problem.

 

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