Early sleep can help fight child obesity

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Putting your kids to bed early may be a simple way to keep their weight down. Putting your kids to bed early may be a simple way to keep their weight down.
SummaryStudy involved 37 children, ages 8 to 11; 27 per cent of whom were overweight or obese.

Putting your kids to bed early may be a simple way to keep their weight down, a new study has found.

The study conducted by Chantelle Hart, from the Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) is the first known study to examine the impact of sleep on children's eating behaviours by manipulating the amount of sleep that study participants were able to get.

The study involved 37 children, ages 8 to 11; 27 per cent of whom were overweight or obese.

For the first week of the study, children were asked to sleep their typical amount.

During the second week, the group was randomised to either reduce or lengthen their sleep time; participants completed the opposite sleep schedule during the third and final week of the study.

During the week that the children increased their sleep, they reported consuming an average of 134 fewer calories per day, weighed a half pound less, and had lower fasting levels of leptin, a hunger-regulating hormone that is also highly correlated with the amount of adipose tissue, when compared to the week of decreased sleep.

"Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children's sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity," said Hart.

"The potential role of sleep should be further explored," Hart, who conducted the study at the Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said.

While the study is still early in the testing, Hart hints that the intervention looks promising.

"Given all of its documented benefits, in many ways, you can't lose in promoting a good night's sleep," said Hart.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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