Your Health: Children, Sleep & Obesity


Story Updated: Feb 7, 2013

Not getting enough sleep not only can affect a child's mood, success in school and ability to interact socially, a study has found a link between inadequate sleep and obesity.

Youngsters today watch more television than ever and love video games, computers and other technology.

All are things that can keep them up later and get in the way of a good night's sleep. 

Evans Mills pediatrician Dr. Marlene Hajal says inadequate sleep has become an increasing problem.

So how much is enough?

"I advise parents to make sure that their kids get at least nine hours of sleep every night. Napping does not help. They need to be nine consecutive hours," said Dr. Hajal.

Not getting that sleep could affect your child's weight down the road. 

A UCLA School of Public Health study has found that young children who don't get enough nighttime sleep have about an 80 percent higher risk of obesity five years later. 

With childhood obesity a problem in this country, Dr. Hajal says good sleep habits could help.

"Shut (off) all TVs, all computer screens, loud music, video games - all of that should be taken away for what we call a good sleep hygiene," she said.

To help keep your child's weight in check, make sure he or she has a healthy diet, gets enough exercise and sleeps at least nine hours each night.

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