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Childhood Obesity Linked to Lack of Sleep

By Christina Elston

"It's the weekend, so you can stay up a little later." How many times have you said that to your kids?

Recent research linking sleep deprivation with childhood obesity might have you rethinking your approach. A Canadian study, reported in the online International Journal of Obesity, found that 6-year-olds who get 10 hours or less of sleep per night are almost 3.5 times as likely to be overweight as those who get 12 hours or more.

"Once you start having later bedtimes, you're telling someone that staying up late is a reward," says Rafael Pelayo, M.D., director of the pediatric sleep service at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. Instead, Pelayo recommends keeping sleep and wake-up times consistent, and nixing TV and video games during the hour or so before bedtime in favor of calm activities, such as reading. For more information, visit the National Sleep Foundation online at www.sleepforkids.org.

 Christina Elston is the contributing health editor for United Parenting Publications.

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