Parents want their children to be physically active, mentally sharp and have healthy eating habits. But in today’s lifestyle, junk foods or fast foods have taken over much of the child’s diet, affecting their health adversely. Easy availability of unhealthy food is making it difficult for parents to manage their children’s diets. Too much junk food and too little physical activity are the frequently-cited culprits of obesity and other health related issues in children. But what about sleep?

New research suggests that a moderate increase in sleep may prove effective in helping children eat less and lose weight. Researchers have found that extending sleeping hours reduced overall calorie intake and altered Leptin hormone levels associated with greater appetite control. Their results suggest that ensuring children get plenty of sleep on a regular basis may offer significant help in maintaining healthy weight and avoiding obesity.

Leptin plays an important role in regulating metabolism and energy expenditure, signalling to the body that it has enough energy to function, thereby reducing appetite. Abnormal and high levels of leptin can lead to leptin resistance, with the body becoming less equipped to use the hormone effectively to regulate appetite and metabolism.

Studies have also shown that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased intake of hundreds of additional calories per day. Lack of sleep has also been shown to influence the types of foods we crave, leading to changes in brain chemistry that make unhealthful foods more tempting. Obesity puts children at risk for many of the same health problems, like high blood pressure and cholesterol, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as type 2 diabetes. Breathing problems, including obstructive sleep apnea, are common problems among children who are obese. Weight problems that begin during childhood and adolescence often continue till adulthood. Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. They are even more likely to suffer from heart problems, diabetes and many other metabolic syndromes later in their lives.

Hence sleep is a powerful therapeutic tool in controlling child obesity and other related diseases as it will help you keep a check on your child’s unhealthy cravings. Sufficient sleep will even ensure proper growth and higher immunity, leading to lower susceptibility to common ailments and diseases.