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More sleep for younger kids means less chance of becoming obese, study finds

January 24, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images )

If you hate enforcing bedtime with your kids, here's another good reason why you should. A new study suggests that younger children who get more regular sleep are less likely to be obese.

The study from researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Louisville looked at 308 children from 4 to 10 years old. They tracked the kids' sleep time for a week via wrist monitors and calculated their body mass index, a standard measurement based on weight and height. The reseachers also did blood work to measure glucose and insulin levels in some children.

Some of the findings:

Regardless of their weight, children slept on average eight hours a night. (The National Institutes of Health recommend nine hours a night.)

Children could "catch up" if they missed out by sleeping more over the weekend.

Obese children got less sleep and experienced "a mixed sleep pattern."

"Children whose sleep patterns were at the lower end of sleep duration particularly in the presence of irregular sleep schedules, exhibited the greatest health risk," the study’s abstract says. The study was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Bottom line: Regular sleep for children might make a difference in keeping them at a healthy weight. But how you wrestle them into bed is still up to you.

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