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Sleep deprivation increases weight in children

Sleep deprived pre-schoolers consume about 20% more calories than when they follow their regular sleep patterns. This is the conclusion from a study carried out at the University of Colorado and published in the Journal of Sleep Research. The children were all regular afternoon nappers, but kept awake for 3 more hours more than usual on the test days. It was found that they consumed 25% more sugar and 26% more carbohydrates than when they were given the full amount of sleep. On these ‘recovery days’ they returned to baseline sugar and carbohydrate consumption, however, they still consumed 14% more calories and 23% more fat.

The results help shed light on how sleep loss can affect weight gain. Furthermore, in the USA, it is estimated that about 30% of pre-schoolers do not get enough sleep. With rising levels of childhood obesity, this study helps to show how a variety of factors can contribute to the problem. Interestingly, in the study, parents were given no instructions regarding the kind or amount of food and drink to give to their children, and fed them the same as they would on any normal day. Although the study size was small, with five girls and five boys, the researchers are hoping to repeat their results in a larger sample and to continue their research using different diets and objectively measure activity in children.

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