Sleep Disorders

29 November 2006

Obese kids sleep badly

About one in four overweight children have trouble sleeping, new research finds. However, regular exercise can help those yawning youngsters.

About one in four overweight children have sleep trouble, new research finds. However, regular exercise can help those yawning youngsters.

The study of 100 black and white American boys and girls, ages 7 to 11, found that one-fourth of overweight, inactive children tested positive for sleep-disordered breathing, including the telltale sign of snoring.

But the number of children with sleep problems was cut in half after about three months of vigorous after-school physical activity, such as basketball, tag, and jumping rope.

Even children who did not have sleep problems at the start of the study showed improved sleep scores after boosting their levels of physical activity.

"Existing data suggests about two percent of children have sleep problems, but with 37 percent of children now considered overweight, the percentage may be much higher," lead researcher Dr Catherine L. Davis, a clinical health psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, said in a prepared statement.

A red flag to paediatricians
"We believe this study is a red flag to paediatricians to ask parents about their children's snoring," Davis said. "Snoring does not appear to be benign in children. Not sleeping well can affect children's behaviour, their ability to function in school. We don't know yet if it will affect their development."

The study was published in the November issue of the journal Obesity. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
Sleep Centre
Child Centre

November 2006


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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