Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Short sleep and breathing issues increases obesity risk in children

A child's risk of obesity is increased by sleeping for short amounts of time and breathing issues while sleeping.

Too little sleep has officially been linked to an increased risk of obesity, particularly among young children. Recent findings published in The Journal of Pediatrics reveals a high connection between sleep-related breathing problems and obesity.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 1,900 children in England and followed the participants for about 15 years. Study results showed that those who got the least amount of sleep between the ages 5 and 6 had between a 60 percent and 100 percent increased risk of obesity by age 15.

"In recent years, lack of sleep has become a well-recognized risk for childhood obesity," said lead study author Karen Bonuck, Ph.D., professor of family and social medicine and of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein, in a news release. "Sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB, which includes snoring and sleep apnea, is also a risk factor for obesity but receives less attention. These two risk factors had not been tracked together in children over time to determine their potential for independently influencing weight gain. Our study aimed to fill in that gap."

Furthermore, researchers found that children with the most severe sleep-disorder breathing (SDB) had the highest obesity risk. Children whose SDB levels peaked at around 5 to 6 years old still had a 60 to 80 percent increased risk of obesity, but fared better overall.

"If impaired sleep in childhood is conclusively shown to cause future obesity, it may be vital for parents and physicians to identify sleep problems early, so that corrective action can be taken and obesity prevented. With childhood obesity hovering at 17 percent in the United States, we're hopeful that efforts to address both of these risk factors could have a tremendous public health impact," Bonuck concluded.

A common cause of sleep-related breathing problems in children is oftentimes due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which can be removed with surgery if a problem occurs. Misalignment of jaws or teeth can also cause issues.

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