Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

More Sleep, Less Childhood Obesity

Skimping on Sleep May Make Children More Likely to Become Overweight or Obese

Why the Findings?

The reviewed studies were observational, so it's not clear which came first: extra pounds or less sleep.

It's also not clear how sleep affects children's weight. But Wang notes several theories:

  • More time awake means more time to eat.
  • Less sleep at night makes for drowsier, less-active days (and fewer calories burned).
  • Sleep shortfalls may affect certain hormones. "This may increase people's feelings of hunger and also affect their energy expenditure," Wang says.

The links between sleep and BMI were stronger for boys than girls. The reason for that isn't clear, Wang says.

What About Genes?

That doesn't mean that other factors -- including genes, diet, and exercise -- aren't important. Just yesterday, another team of researchers noted heredity's influence on childhood obesity.

"I think people should be aware of all the important potential risk factors," Wang says.

He points out that genes may only have their full effect when the conditions are right -- and in the case of obesity genes, that might mean being in a setting ripe with opportunities to overeat.

"It's a coin; which side do you want to pay more attention to?" Wang asks, putting genes on one side of the coin and environmental factors on the flip side.

"I think from a public health perspective, people should pay more attention to environmental and behavioral factors," Wang says. He notes that gene tests and gene therapy aren't yet available for obesity. And though you can't change your genes, behavior can bend.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration