Childhood Obesity Causes Sleeping Problems

Overweight children face serious health concerns, including hardened arteries and the risk of adult-onset diabetes. Now, researchers have found that obese kids also have an increased incidence of sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB.

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SDB encompasses various unhealthy sleep behaviors, from ordinary snoring to obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA – a condition that can pose a serious health threat.

Researchers at the University of Antwerp in Belgium recently released the results of a study designed to assess the effect of weight loss on obese teenagers with SDB. The teens – all residents at an obesity treatment center – were weighed, measured, and assessed for sleep patterns. 61 teens with symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing were then placed in a structured weight loss therapy program.

After the weight loss therapy program, the study subjects were again weighed and measured and assessed for SDB. It was found that weight loss was successful in eliminating the symptoms associated with SDB in the formerly-obese teenagers.

The researchers concluded that weight loss is the recommended form of treatment for SDB in obese children and teenagers. However, while weight loss can be an effective treatment for SDB in older children, some of the younger study subjects continued to show signs of sleep apnea even after losing the weight. As a result, the research team recommended that further studies be conducted to assess the effect of modest weight loss on SDB in younger overweight children.