Could a lack of sleep make children eat more?
As scientists and policymakers are scrambling to put the brakes on rising childhood obesity rates, a new study suggests a potential link between not enough sleep and food intake.
Over the course of three weeks, scientists at Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education asked kids ages 8 to 11 to change their sleep habits. One week, they’d cut their sleep time by 90 minutes; another week, they’d sleep 90 minutes more.
Researchers also tracked the kids’ food intake and weight, and found that kids who slept more ate less.”What we found is that, compared to when children decrease their sleep, when children increase their sleep they end up consuming 134 calories a day fewer, and weighed about a half a pound less,” said lead researcher Chantelle Hart.
The amount of sleep also affected levels of a hormone that triggers feelings of hunger.
The findings suggest a link between lack of sleep and obesity risk in kids, Hart said. In search of more evidence, she is conducting another study.
“The ongoing study that we have right now is longer. It’s also with a larger number of children we are trying to enroll into that study,” she explained. “And also, it’s just important to replicate findings. The more that we can replicate the same findings, the stronger you feel in the results that you found.”
It’s recommended kids between the ages of 8 and 11 get at least 10 hours sleep each night.