Children who get less sleep are more likely to be obese, according to a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
A team of researchers from the University of Chicago studied the sleep patterns of 308 children from Louisville, Ky., between the ages of four and 10 for one week. They found that children of all weights averaged eight hours of sleep per night. Nine to10 hours of sleep are recommended for those ages.
Even children who managed to catch up on a small amount of missed sleep tripled their risk of obesity. One researcher even noted that "catch-up" sleep was better than no sleep.
"If a child has a tendency to be obese but gets adequate sleep, he is more likely to be protected than if he is not sleeping as much as he needs," commented Dr. David Gozal, one of the study's lead researchers and the chair of the pediatrics department at the University of Chicago in Illinois.
"Catch-up sleep is better than nothing and can help but we don't think it can offer complete protection," he added.
According to the study, the lack of sleep creates metabolism problems for a young and growing body. Other studies have found that it can throw off the body's biological clock and make people even hungrier.