A new study claims children gain a POUND in weight for every HOUR of sleep they lose.
The staggering findings come from researchers in New Zealand who monitored 244 children from toddlerhood onwards.
The children had their sleep patterns analysed using accelerometers, which measured their movements throughout the night. They wore them for five consecutive days and nights at the age of three, four and five.
The resulting statistics suggested that children aged three to five sleep on average 11 hours a night, but for every hour they sleep less than that, they will carry an extra pound and a half (0.7kg) of fat by their seventh birthday.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the reports' authors said: 'Youngsters who sleep less are more likely to be overweight, with high body fat values, even after adjustment for lifestyle variables.'
They went on to suggest that parents set in place 'appropriate sleep habits ' in children, and claimed the weight gain came about from the more available time for eating and disrupted hormone levels in kids who did not sleep enough.
What do you think?
Do you agree that enough sleep is essential?
Is there really little a parent can do if a child won't - or can't - establish a regular sleep pattern?