Kids, Sleep, and Diabetes Risk

The importance of sleep is fairly obvious – those who fail to get enough sleep will likely struggle to make it through the following day. For children,
however, there might be another reason why getting sufficient sleep is so important.

Number Crunching

Children who skimp on sleep could be more susceptible to type-2 diabetes, according to research published online in the journal Pediatrics. This report examined the sleeping patterns and health of over 4,500 children living in the United Kingdom. In terms of ethnic background, the participants included white European, South Asian, and black Afro-Caribbean youths. The data, which was collected between October 2004 and February 2007, included the levels of lipids, insulin and glucose in the children’s blood.
In addition, each child’s height, weight, fat mass (using bioimpedance), and blood pressure were documented.

Less Sleep, More Fat?

Fortunately, the young subjects appeared to get fairly sufficient amounts of sleep, averaging 10.5 hours on school nights. To give this figure some perspective, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night. The study noted that black Afro-
Caribbean children tallied the fewest number of sleep, whereas White European children had the highest. Insulin resistance, a telltale sign of increased type 2 diabetes risk, was notably more pronounced on children who recorded less sleep on average. Furthermore, these same children were also more likely to have high levels of body fat, and struggled with higher rates of obesity.

Worth A Second Look

While certainly noteworthy, this report does not conclusively prove a link between insufficient sleep and diabetes risk. The authors relied on the participating children to report on their daily levels of sleep. Obviously, such recollections might be prone to error. Furthermore, the researchers documented large differences among ethnic groups, even when all relevant factors were taken into account. Given these issues, it will likely require a larger, interventional study to better gauge the impact of sleep on future diabetes risk.

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