Sleep is a Childhood Obesity Buster

Jeanne Sager

Photo by Jeanne Sager

The bedroom might be the next arena for the childhood obesity battle. It turns out tots with bad sleep habits are at an increased risk for belly fat.

The new study, published in the journal SLEEP, focused on folks under the age of 40, so it applies to you too Mom and Dad.

The researchers say over five years folks who slept less than the optimal amount gained substantially more abdominal fat than those who were getting a healthy amount of shut eye. And it's not exactly new news.

Just this month, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study that lists establishing good sleep habits as one of the top three ways parents of pre-schoolers can fight the battle of the bulge.

Of course it all gives me agita. I've, ahem, confessed to the world that I don't stick to a hard and fast bed-time rule. I've even been on ABC News to share that little tale. We do, however, encourage our daughter to get to bed when she starts showing signs of tiredness -- so she might go to bed at 6 one night, 9 the next (yes, there are 11's in there, but they are extremely rare). And we've lined the windows with room-darkening shades that keep her in bed until she's really and truly ready to get up.

We've stressed a healthy amount of sleep -- with naps thrown in as necessary -- because we've felt that's the most important part. But I could always use some help.

How do you ensure your kids get the appropriate amount of sleep?

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