According to a new study at the Pediatrics Department of the University of Chicago, children who sleep for at least nine hours do not have problems of obesity and the accompanying metabolic disorders like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study indicated that children who consistently get nine to 10 hours of sleep on both weekdays and weekends have the healthiest metabolic profile. “Good sleep routines and sleeping the right amount is the best healthy proposition,” lead author David Gozal said.
Parents should watch for symptoms that indicate their children need to sleep more. Being cranky or less alert are just two of these. Consequences seen during school would probably be behavior problems, poorer execution of cognitive tests and physical injuries.
Catching up on sleep over the weekend is believed to help to a certain extent but those children who were obese already had shorter and more irregular patterns of sleep. These are also the ones who had higher insulin levels — which can lead to type 2 diabetes over a prolonged period — higher levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and higher levels of C-reactive protein, which has been linked to heart disease in later life.
Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat (or adipose tissue) in relation to lean body mass. The amount of body fat includes concern for both the distribution of fat throughout the body and the size of adipose tissue deposits. Weight standards can be measured in many different ways. The most common is body mass index.
BMI represents weight levels associated with the lowest overall risk to health. BMI is a mathematical formula in which a person’s body weight in kilograms is divided by the square of his or her height in meters. BMI is more highly correlated with body fat than any other indicator of height and weight. Desirable BMI levels may vary with age. According to the National Institutes of Health clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation and treatment of overweight and obese adults, all adults (aged 18 years or older) who have a BMI of 25 or more are considered at risk for premature death and disability. Individuals with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. Health risks increase as severity of the person’s obesity increases.
Other weight tables have been created by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Theirs is based on their client population.
Factors that contribute to child, adolescent and adult obesity include:
Modifiable (things that can be changed) causes such as:
• Physical activity: lack of regular exercise
• Sedentary behavior: high frequency of television viewing, computer usage and similar behavior that takes up time that could be used for physical activity
• Socioeconomic status: low family incomes and non-working parents
• Eating habits: over-consumption of high-calorie foods and eating patterns such as eating when not hungry, eating while watching TV or doing homework
• Environment: factors include over-exposure to advertising of foods that promote high-calorie foods and lack of recreational facilities
Non-changeable causes include:
• Genetics: children of obese and overweight parents are at greater risk of obesity
Obese people are at risk of developing one or more serious medical conditions, which can cause poor health and premature death. Obesity is associated with more than 30 medical conditions and scientific evidence has established strong relationships with increases in deaths from all causes due to obesity. Preliminary data also shows the impact of obesity on various other conditions. Weight loss of about 10 percent of body weight, for people who are overweight or obese, can improve some obesity-related medical conditions including diabetes and hypertension.
Just a few facts on obesity-related medical conditions:
• More than 75 percent of hypertension cases are reported to be directly linked to obesity.
• Obesity contributes to the main cause of gout — the deposit of uric acid crystals in joints and tissue.
• As many as 90 percent of individuals with type 2 diabetes are reported to be overweight or obese. Obesity has been found to be the largest environmental factor on the prevalence of diabetes in a population.
• Postmenopausal women with obesity have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, weight gain after menopause may also increase breast cancer risk. Women who gain nearly 45 pounds or more after age 18 are twice as likely to develop breast cancer after menopause than those who remain at a stable weight.
• Women with obesity have three to four times the risk of endometrial cancer than women with lower BMI.
• The effects of obesity on cardiovascular health can begin in childhood, which increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as an adult.
• Obesity has been found to decrease the body’s resistance to harmful organisms. A decrease in the activity of scavenger cells, which destroy bacteria and foreign organisms in the body, has been observed in patients with obesity.
If losing weight is high on your list of New Year’s resolutions for your child or yourself, check out “The Top 10 Habits That Can Help You Lose Weight” by Kathleen M. Zelman on WEBMD.