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Sleep and obesity: Mechanisms


Current studies

One in three New Zealand children are overweight or obese. Diet and physical activity have been the cornerstones of obesity research, but insufficient sleep is a strong, independent risk factor for obesity in children. How insufficient sleep leads to weight gain is uncertain, and careful mechanistic studies that include sleep restriction are required to determine causality.

We are currently undertaking a pilot study among children in Dunedin to test the feasibility of research methods planned for a larger study (to begin in 2019). The pilot study will provide much-needed practical information in preparation for a larger experimental study, which aims to restrict and extend children’s sleep by approximately one hour per night—a level of sleep deprivation that mimics what many children experience every day.