Inadequate Sleep May Increase Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Stroke Risk Among Obese Children

Sleeping Child in Black and WhiteSleep is important for good health — and especially important for children and teenagers who are still growing and developing. Now a new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that obese children who do not get adequate sleep may have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Previous studies have suggested a link between inadequate sleep and an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adults and young children. For the present study, researchers led by Heidi IglayReger, supervisor of the Physical Activity Laboratory at the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center, studied 37 obese children and teens between the ages of 11 and 17 years old to examine the relationship between sleep and cardiometabolic risk accumulation.

To assess the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the participants, the researchers measured fasting cholesterol, blood sugar, waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure. The data collection created a continuous cardiometabolic risk score for each participant.

The children and teens in the study then wore a physical monitor 24 hours a day for a full seven days to monitor physical activity and sleep patterns.

According to the study, only one-third of the participants met the minimum physical activity recommendation of 60 minutes per day.

Additionally, although most of the participants slept for a total of seven hours each night, waking at least once on average, only 13 percent of the children and teen met the minimum sleep recommendation for the age group of 8.5 hours per night.

After controlling for compounding factors such as BMI and physical activity, the researchers discovered that sleep levels below the recommended levels are a significant factor for cardiometabolic risk in children and adolescents. The researchers do note that the current study cannot conclude that inadequate sleep causes an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Adds IglayReger, “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.”

To further assess the effects of sleep on cardiometabolic risk among children and teenagers, the researchers now plan to create a “study arm” in which getting optimal sleep is the primary goal for all participants.

Explains IglayReger, “We will track sleep objectively with the same accelerometers utilized within this publication and will stratify primary outcome variables by sleep group. We will further consider the actual amount and quality of sleep obtained overall. For instance, do adolescents in the sleep group actually sleep more?”

“We know that for a lot of reasons adolescents do not get enough sleep. We hope that by helping obese adolescents and their families make lifestyle changes, such as obtaining optimal sleep, we can improve cardiometabolic health.”

The researchers conclude the present study by noting that inadequate further increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke among obese children and teens who are already at increased risk for cardiometabolic problems.


Obese Kids: Inadequate Sleep May Increase Heart Disease Risk:
Sleep Duration Predicts Cardiometabolic Risk in Obese Adolescents:
Sleep Duration Predicts Cardiometabolic Risk in Obese Adolescents:

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