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Getting More Sleep May Help Children Eat Less

Update Date: Nov 04, 2013 01:53 PM EST

Sleep may help keep kids thin, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at how sleep affected children's eating behaviors by manipulating the amount of sleep the study participants were able to get.

The study involved 37 children aged 8 to 11. Researchers noted that 27 percent of the children were overweight or obsess.

The study had children sleep their typical amount in the first week. Children were then randomized to either reduce or lengthen their sleep time. Afterwards, the children completed the opposite sleep schedule during the third and final week of the study.

The findings revealed that children reported eating an average of 134 fewer calories on days where they got more sleep.  Children who slept more also weighed half a pound less and had lower fasting levels of leptin, a hunger-regulating hormone correlated with the amount of adipose tissue.

"Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children's sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity," lead researcher Chantelle Hart said in a news release. "The potential role of sleep should be further explored."

"Given all of its documented benefits, in many ways, you can't lose in promoting a good night's sleep," she added.

The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

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