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More Sleep, Less Childhood Obesity

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

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.

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