A study launched in 1989 has found that there’s a correlation between lack of sleep in children and obesity risks as a child and into adulthood. The study targeted ~10,000 babies born that year. These children were assessed every 3 years until they became high school students.
“[M]ore children who had less than nine hours of sleep when they were 3 years old, compared with those who had more than 10 hours, became obese when they reach junior high and high school.” On average, the obesity rate was 1.6 times higher for those with less sleep as a baby.
Obesity in children believed to be caused by lack of exercise and an enriched diet amongst other factors. However, this study indicates that “sleep deficiency in young children is linked to them becoming obese even if lack of exercise as a primary factor is excluded.”
Sleep greatly affects the development of a child’s mind, body, and health. Primarily this is through growth hormones and autonomic nerves. It must be remembered, however, that there are many other factors leading to obesity.
In Japan, only about 3% of children were obese in the 1970s, but since the 1990s this has risen to over 10%.
Therefore, I conclude, you should let your children sleep as much as possible and should make sure they get enough sleep. While this is focusing on children, I also firmly believe that sleep is important throughout your whole life. If only we could all get a little more of it!
Kyodo News. “Researchers link lack of sleep with obesity in children” (22 Jan 2008). Available
Comment: Darn, I didn’t realize this was an older article until just now… Thanks Japan Times.