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Category: General Health
It's not just adults who have to worry about having high cholesterol levels, but children as well. This is particularly true for obese children, who may be more likely to have high cholesterol levels due to their poor diet. Recently, a study conducted by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that encouraging adolescents to get more sleep could help reduce the rate of obesity among this population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 20 percent of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 have at least one abnormal lipid level, which is why kids should engage in cholesterol testing as well as adults.
Less sleep, greater weight
The scientists found that among children aged 14 to 18, getting few hours of sleep each night was associated with having a greater body mass index. The researchers determined that 10 hours of sleep each night is ideal for adolescents, particularly those who are already overweight.
"The psychosocial and physical consequences of adolescent obesity are well documented, yet the rate has more than tripled over the last four decades," said lead author Jonathan Mitchell, postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Penn Medicine. "What we found in following these adolescents is that each additional hour of sleep was associated with a reduced BMI for all participants, but the reduction was greater for those with higher BMIs."
One of the most interesting discoveries made in this study was that getting 10 hours of sleep each night seemed to help adolescents have a healthy BMI, even after adjusting for all of the time they spent watching TV or in the front of the computer. This suggests that even if kids don't meet physical activity guidelines, they can help ward off obesity by sleeping enough.
The researchers said that in the past, studies have shown that lecturing young people on the importance of sleep has not been an effective way to get them to sleep more. They said that one possible solution would be for high schools to delay the start of the school day for 30 or 45 minutes to help kids get more sleep.
What parents can do
While it may seem like a futile battle, there are things that parents can do to help their teen get more sleep at night. Psychology Today states that while parents can't make their kids get tired before they are ready, they can do other things to encourage them to go to bed. For example, parents can put a limit on screen time so that teens have to power down their smartphones and shut off their computer at a certain time each night. One good way to do this is to make sure that teens don't have a computer or television in their bedroom.
Also, parents should encourage kids to engage in physical activity, since exercising may tire them out. Whether it's joining a sports team or simply going for a bike ride each night, teens should move around when they get home from school. Parents should promote consistency among their teenager. Studies have shown that going to bed and waking up at the same time each night can help people get better rest each night. Even if teens can't fall asleep at the same time every night, encourage them to at least get into bed at a consistent hour, even if they are going to stay up reading.
Finally, parents should tell their kids about this recent study. Those who are struggling with their weight may appreciate the benefits of sleeping to ward off obesity.
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