We know that a lack sleep can have serious implications on the health and productivity of adults and teens – but how does it effect children?
New research has found that children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese because it can lead to poor dietary choices.
The study, carried out by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), found that 32% of primary school children and 70% of secondary school students don’t get nine hours of sleep a night – which is the minimum recommended amount.
According to the data, half of the secondary school pupils also reported waking up in the middle of the night at least once.
The survey assessed the way young people and children were eating, and found that a quarter of secondary school students and one in ten primary school pupils had not eaten breakfast that day.
Many were even missing out on the key nutrients in their meals, with 18% of secondary school students consuming fruit or vegetables in their first meal of the day.
Recent reports have found that fewer kids are playing outside and there is a debate over the time school days should start, so it’s clear that the physical health of children is at the forefront of the national agenda.
Dr Lucy Chambers, senior scientist at the BNF, said a bad night’s sleep can lead both adults and children to make unhealthy decisions when it comes to their food.
She said: ‘Where lack of, and disturbed, sleep can lead to both adults and young people feeling grumpy and irritable, regular poor-quality sleep can have a negative impact on dietary choices, including higher intakes of calories and more frequent snacking on less healthy foods.
‘The BNF’s Task Force report, published earlier this year, highlighted that lack of sleep, and interrupted sleep, may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.’
The findings reflect those of a previous report published in Science Advances, which found that a night of missed sleep could leave you feeling physically weaker and more at risk of obesity.
In the data received, nearly two-thirds (59%) reported using screens before bedtime, with just under fifty% of primary school age children saying that they did the same.
The poll also examined the sleeping patterns of more than 1,500 adults and found that 43% get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night, while 80% reported waking up at least once in the night.
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