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Kids Who Sleep More, Eat Less

Nov 04, 2013 04:08 PM EST

Kids who sleep more eat less, a new study found.

The report, published in the journal Pediatrics, is the latest in the ongoing search for the culprits of childhood obesity.

The study was led by Chantelle Hart, associate professor of public health at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education and is the first to look at the impact of sleep on children's eating behaviors by manipulating the amount of sleep participants received.

Conducted at Brown University's Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School, the study included 37 children between the age of 8 and 11. Twenty-seven percent of the participants were either overweight or obese.

Participants slept their typical amount during the first week of the study and were randomized to either longer or shorter sleep times during the second week, completing the opposite sleep schedule the third week.

The results found that when participants increased their sleep, they consumed an average of 134 fewer calories per day and weighed a half pound less when compared to the week in which their sleep was restricted. They also had lower fasting levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and is correlated with the amount of adipose tissue.

"Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children's sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity," Hart said in a statement. "The potential role of sleep should be further explored."

Already Hart is working on a study funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to determine whether increased sleep can lead to significant changes in eating, activity levels and weight.

Though still in the early stages, Hart says the results are already beginning to form a clear picture.

"Given all of its documented benefits, in many ways, you can't lose in promoting a good night's sleep."

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