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Sleep deprivation linked to child obesity?

The Star Tribune reported on Wednesday, Oct 14 that "Elementary school children who don't get enough sleep in third grade are more likely than their peers to be overweight in sixth grade," according to a study examining the relationship between excess fat and sleep in children.

Studies have also found a correlation between adults' weight and their sleeping patterns, the Star Tribune said.

Children ages 9 to 12 who regularly got less than nine hours of sleep per night were at increased risk of being overweight, reported researchers led by University of Michigan pediatrician, Julie C. Lumeng. Sex, race, social status and home environment did not affect the results of the study.

Researchers found that for every additional hour of sleep beyond nine hours, a sixth-grade child was 20 percent less likely to be overweight.

The authors write that the study's findings suggest the link between obesity and sleep duration is caused by fluctuations of the body's metabolism and hormone levels that control weight.

"The National Sleep Foundation recommends that elementary school students sleep between 10 and 12 hours per night."