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Study Shows Link Between Lack of Sleep and Obesity in Children

Study Shows Link Between Lack of Sleep and Obesity in Children

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Kim Mulvihill ReportingHere's another argument to use on your kids to get them to go to bed on time: New research from the University of Michigan shows a link between lack of sleep and fatter children.

The study in the journal Pediatrics asks the questions "Can a good night's sleep cut your child's risk of obesity?" The answer: maybe so.

Researchers found the less sleep third-graders get the more likely they are to be obese in the sixth-grade, no matter what the child's weight was in the third-grade.

The doctor who led the study says tired kids are simply less likely to exercise and more likely to sit on the sofa and eat.

In case you're wondering the ideal number of hours of sleep a third-grader should get is nine hours and 45 minutes a night.

Lack of sleep plays havoc with two hormones that are key in regulating our appetite. Studies on sleep-deprived adults found higher levels of 'ghrelin,' a hormone that promotes hunger, and lower levels of 'leptin', which is a hormone that signals fullness.

While we still don't have enough data to say it's cause and effect, I do think it's another good reason for a good night's sleep.

Researchers have found that every additional hour per night a third-grader spends sleeping reduces the child's chances of being obese in sixth grade by 40 percent.

Of the children who slept 10 to 12 hours a day, about 12 percent were obese by sixth grade. Many more, 22 percent, were obese in sixth grade of those who slept less than nine hours a day.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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