Kids eat better with more Zzz’s

Kids eat better with more Zzz’s

Ever wonder what may be the culprit to your child’s poor eating habits and weight gain? According to a recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics, kids who don’t get enough sleep at night actually eat more calories during the day. Researchers believe this may be a clue into how obesity risk and lack of sleep are strongly tied together.

Researchers from the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Pennsylvania observed habits of nearly 40 kids ages eight to 11 for three weeks. Of the participants, 27 percent of them were considered in the obese or overweight range.

They had the children continue with their normal sleep patterns the first week and in the next two weeks they alternated a week of longer sleep or shorter sleep periods. After the testing period, the kids were surveyed on what they ate during those three weeks and were re-weighed.

Researchers found that during the weeks where kids had more sleep, they ate on average 134 calories less per day and even weighed a half pound less.

“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 study author, Chantelle Hart in a statement.

Authors of the study are hopeful that these results will help in future interventions and can help with further studies on the role sleep plays on healthy weight.

Dr. Maria Janecek, pediatrician on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., recommends the following tips for parents to encourage more sleep:

  • Set a routine bed time.
  • Keep media, including iPads, video games, phones, computers to a minimum. Power down at least an hour before bed.
  • Avoid having televisions in the bedrooms.
  • Avoid caffeine at least 6 to 8 hours before bed. That includes pop, chocolate, energy drinks and coffee drinks.

“Setting a routine can be very valuable to their overall health,” Janecek says. “And getting a full night’s sleep is at the top of the list.”

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.