Study finds an association between less sleep and an increase in food responsiveness and obesity in 5 year old children.
In the fight against the rising rates of childhood obesity, it helps to know the factors that play a role in driving children to eat. A recent study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, reports on the findings of a study lead by UK researchers, investigating whether sleep duration in children affects their eating habits. For the study, sleep and appetite information was gathered at the age of 5. A sleep scale was set for the purposes of the study, defined as: shorter, adequate, or longer sleep.
The study found a linear association between shorter sleep time and an increase in food responsiveness in 5 year old children. Children who were reported to have slept less than 11 hours per night tended to eat at the sight and reminder of food to a greater extent than children who slept more than an average of 11 hours a night. In addition, the researchers found an association between shorter sleep duration and greater BMI. The researchers state that while the study links reduced sleep with increased food responsiveness, further study should aim to demonstrate that reduced sleep promotes over eating in children, in addition to and assessment of the types of food that are consumed. The study reveals that a lack of sleep could play a role in promoting obesity in preschoolers.
L McDonald, J Wardle, C H Llewellyn, A Fisher. “Nighttime sleep duration and hedonic eating in childhood” International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 11 August 2015; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.132
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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD