Lack of Sleep in Young Children Associated with Heart Disease, Diabetes in Obese Adolescents

First Posted: Mar 06, 2014 02:02 PM EST

Sleep is an essential part of our overall health and well-being, and especially for children who may need a bit more shut eye than adults, getting a good night's rest can be critical to their school performance. Yet a recent study shows that obese adolescents who may not be getting enough rest could be at a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and even stroke.

As an estimated 30 percent of adolescents are obese or overweight in the United States, researchers are uncertain if they can directly link a lack of sleep to weight related health issues.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and Baylor University studied 37 obese adolescents ages 11 to 17. They examined the participant's risk factors for such health issues as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, along with their blood pressure, waist circumference and body mass index.

The adolescents were also fitted with a physical activity monitor that was worn 24 hours a day for seven days to measure typical patterns of physical and sleep activity.

Results showed that one-third of the participants met the minimum recommendation for being physically active at least 60 minutes a day, yet most participants slept approximately seven hours eah night and typically woke up at least once. Only five of the participants actually met the minimal recommended eight and a half hours of sleep a night.

"However, the strong association between sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk score independent of the effects of body composition and physical activity suggest a potential influence of sleep duration on cardiometabolic health in obese adolescents," said lead author Heidi IglayReger, Ph.D., supervisor of the Physical Activity Laboratory at the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center, via a press release.

Researchers said they hope to conduct future studies in order to better determine if improving sleep duration could decrease the risk of these cardiometabolic diseases.

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More information regarding the study can be found via The Journal of Pediatrics

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