Children who lack sleep at risk of being fatter
Published 27/05/2011 | 05:00
YOUNG children who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight at the age of seven, researchers say.
A lack of sleep increases the risk a child will become overweight even after accounting for lifestyle factors, such as whether they exercise or have a healthy diet.
Experts in New Zealand studied 244 children for the research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Their weight, height, body mass index (BMI), and body composition, including body fat, were measured every six months from age three to seven.
How much they slept and their physical activity was also assessed. The researchers found that, on average, children slept 11 hours per day at all three ages.
But those children who slept an extra hour per night at ages three to seven had a reduction in BMI of 0.48 and a 61pc reduced risk of being overweight when they were seven.
They noted that the lower BMI was due to less body fat, suggesting poor sleep has negative effects on body composition.