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Hospiten alerts of the relationship between sleep deprivation and childhood obesity

Posted on 12-11-2019

On the occasion of World Obesity Day on November 12, the Pediatric Endocrinology Service at Hospiten Rambla warns of the high prevalence of child obesity in the Canary Islands and the relationship between the condition and lack of sleep.

“Sleep deprivation affects appetite, because feeling fatigued, children tend to eat more to have more energy. And it is proven that the less a child rests at night, the more the child tends to gain weight. This is due to confusion in internal signals, where the child compensates for fatigue due to lack of sleep, by eating too much”, explains specialist in Pediatric Endocrinology, Jose Manuel Rial, who stresses the importance of developing good sleep habits from childhood so they can have a healthy life in the future.

The report ‘The State of the World's Children 2019: Food and Nutrition’, by UNICEF, states that 35% of children in Spain between 8 and 16 years of age are overweight and 14.2% are obese. This figure is included in the study Steps (Physical activity, sedentary lifestyle and obesity in Spanish youth) carried out in collaboration with the Gasol Foundation. "In the Canary Islands, 35.5% of children are overweight," says the Hospiten specialist, with Murcia, Ceuta and Melilla at the top of the obesity ranking in Spain, followed by the Canary Islands.

"If we compare these figures with a study conducted between 1998 and 2000, with a Spanish population of between 2 and 24 years of age, the number of young people overweight has increased by 9 points, 28%." There are several things that contribute to the obesity and overweight rate in the Canary Islands to be higher than in other autonomous regions, like the geographical factor, since coastal areas, generally tourist focused, adopt less balanced eating habits than rural areas, where gastronomic traditions are better conserved”. Another of the variables is the socioeconomic and cultural level of families, because “in places where the relative poverty index of the neighborhoods has been analyzed, it is observed that, in the poorest areas, obesity and overweight increase to 39%". “The time that children spend with parents is also very important. The less time children share with the parents, the more the child tends to seek satisfaction in food”, adds the specialist.

Regarding prevention, the hospital group insists on the need for strict supervision even before the baby is born, because "maternal obesity is a predisposing factor for high birth weight and subsequent child obesity".

Pediatric endocrinologist José Manuel Rial also stresses the importance of advising parents on the composition of food, of trying to influence what they put in their shopping cart (more vegetables and less industrial foods) and recommending they do physical activity daily. In addition, he points out the sedentary lifestyle caused by electronic entertainment and recommends limiting the number of hours the child spends in front of a screen.