There’s no question there is an obesity epidemic in the United States, including among children. But everyone has a different idea about how to fight it. A newly released study from Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) finds that sleep, specifically increasing sleep, may be a key component.
The study, “Changes in Children’s Sleep Duration on Food Intake, Weight, and Leptin,” published in Pediatrics, examined the impact of sleep on children’s eating behaviors by manipulating the amount of sleep that study participants were able to get. The results were conclusive: During the week that the children increased their sleep, they reported consuming an average of 134 fewer calories per day, weighed a half pound less, and had lower fasting levels of leptin, a hunger-regulating hormone that is also highly correlated with the amount of adipose tissue, when compared to the week of decreased sleep.
“Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children’s sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity,” says Chantelle Hart, associate professor of public health at CORE. “The potential role of sleep should be further explored.”
Hart is now working on a study using a brief behavioral intervention to get kids to increase their sleep to determine if there are significant changes in eating, activity behaviors, and weight status.
While it is still early in the testing, Hart hints that the intervention looks promising: “Given all of its documented benefits, in many ways, you can’t lose in promoting a good night’s sleep.”