27 May 2011

Lack of sleep main cause of childhood obesity - study

8:41 pm on 27 May 2011

A study by researchers at Otago University has concluded that lack of sleep is the main cause of obesity in children.

A long-term study of 250 Dunedin children found those who sleep less than 11 hours every night are more likely to be obese by the time they are seven-years-old, even if other factors like exercise and the quality of food they eat are controlled.

Dunedin School of Medicine paediatrician Barry Taylor says the amount of sleep children get affects the hormones controlling their metabolism and their appetite, which in turn affects how much they eat.

Professor Taylor says children should get about nine to 10 hours' sleep every night, though some will need more.