Study Title:

How Sleep Duration Effects Obesity Risk in Children

Study Abstract

Obesity is a major public health epidemic worldwide in children and adults (1–6). The prevalence and severity of childhood obesity is dramatically increasing with a corresponding increase in the prevalence of obesity-related morbidities particularly those involving obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic and cardiovascular sequelae (7). Prevention of childhood obesity is an urgent issue for public health, in particular, in many industrialized countries and some transition societies. Nutrition and physical activity (PA) have been the major research focus on obesity prevention (8–11). However, most published findings of such interventions suggested little success in preventing childhood obesity (6,12), although some that focused on dietary or/and PA approaches have showed some desirable impact on BMI status (13). Other risk factors, such as sleep, may be related to obesity, although sleep behavior has received much less attention than dietary intake and PA (14,15).

Sleep, like PA and diet, plays an important role in the growth, maturation, and health of children and adolescents by allowing for the diurnal rhythm of hormones related to growth, maturation, and energy homeostasis (16). A number of biological mechanisms have been proposed to link sleep duration and obesity (17). For example, one theory posits that children with short sleep have low caloric intake and expenditure, given that sleep deprivation often leads to changes in the structure of sleep stage and results in fatigue, daytime sleepiness, somatic and cognitive problems, and low activity levels (18,19). Previous studies indicate that sleep deprivation results in changes in levels of several hormones including leptin, ghrelin, insulin, cortisol, and growth hormone (20–22). These hormonal changes may contribute to energy imbalance and then lead to overweight or obesity.

Study Information

Xiaoli Chen, May A. Beydoun, and Youfa Wang.
Childhood Obesity? A Systematic Review
2008 February
The study was supported in part by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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