News from Harvard Medical School:
Sleep and TV affect overweight children
Too little sleep and too much television leads to overweight infants and toddlers. Both lack of sleep, and too much television viewing, are both known to be risk factors in children becoming overweight.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have conducted the first study to investigate the link between sleep and overweight in very young children. They have published their results in the April 2008 issue of Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
What they found was that infants and toddlers who sleep less than 12 hours a day, are twice as likely to become overweight by age three, than children who sleep longer. If the toddlers who slept too little also viewed two or more hours of television per day, the risk of them becoming overweight by age three was increased.
Mothers reported how many hours their child slept per day on average at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years age. Parents were also asked to report the average number of hours their children watched television on weekdays and weekends.
Lack of sleep together with high levels of television viewing appeared to increase the risk of becoming overweight.
This study's results support efforts to reduce television viewing and to promote adequate sleep in efforts to prevent and reduce unhealthy childhood weight-gain. Children who are overweight are often at higher risk for obesity and related conditions, such as raised levels of lipids (fatty molecules) in the blood, hypertension, asthma, and type II diabetes, later in life.
Getting enough sleep is becoming more and more difficult with TV, Internet, and video games in the rooms where children sleep,” says Dr. Elsie Taveras, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Our findings suggest that parents may wish to employ proven sleep hygiene techniques, such as removing TV from children’s bedrooms, to improve sleep quality and perhaps sleep duration.”
Cholesterol entered the public domain sending millions on a quest to free themselves from those chemicals with funny sounding names, ranging from very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). Now, after the dust has settled, we can breath out in relief at the fact that not all of them are bad. We can simplify the taxonomy by identifying them as “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. The LDLs are the “bad” ones, and the HDLs are the “goodies”.
Now it's the turn for fat. There is good new and bad news. The bad news is or men. That “beer belly” is not good for the health. That's not really news is it? We've known that for some time. The good news is for the ladies. Those fat cells, which seem to accumulate round the buttocks, hips and over thighs, and seem so difficult top get rid of: they are good for you.
Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have reported that fat found below the skin, usually in the hips and thighs is associated with reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
In a study published in the May issue of Cell Metabolism, a team lead by Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, found that subcutaneous fat (that gives the ladies their shape) is different from the visceral fat (that's what's covering those “six-pack” abs).
The surprising find, was that it is not where the fat cell are located, but that the fat cells from the abdomen have a different glucose metabolism to the subcutaneous fat cells, and are a different kind of fat cell.
So if you have a “pear” shape, then don't worry about it too much, but if you have an “apple” shape, then a few sit-ups in the morning and evening won't do any harm. Oh yes, and go easy on the beer. And if you are considering liposuction, make sure that you aim for the bad fat, and not let vanity take the good 'uns.
Or better still, first try healthy lifestyle choices like a balanced diet and taking exercise (Pilates?) would deal with the visceral, and not subcutaneous fat.