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Children who sleep a lot are at risk for obesity, is it true or false?

May 23, 2018

Obesity and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, are increasingly common even in children. Some people believe that children who sleep a lot are at greater risk of becoming obese because they spend fewer hours on the move. True or false? Dr. Vincenzo Tullo, neurologist specialist and headache clinic manager at Humanitas, answers this question.


“False. Sleeping for a long time does not increase the risk for obesity and metabolic diseases in children – explains the expert – indeed, an adequate and quality rest seems to be able to prevent this type of disorders. Sleep, in fact, together with movement, has a very important role in regulating appetite because in the right amount and quality it maintains stable levels of leptin, a hormone that has the task of warning the body when you are satiated. This way, if the baby sleeps regularly, he or she will not feel the urge to eat too much, and will not tend to prefer sugary, caloric and high-fat foods, which is what happens if the baby goes to bed late and is not used to a regular routine, even in regards of sleep. In addition, recent studies have shown that in children who sleep longer insulin and blood sugar levels are lower than in children who sleep less. This is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. In addition, sleeping well and for a long time makes children more willing to practice sports, further reducing the risk of obesity and related diseases”.

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