Quality sleep essential to fighting child obesity

A child eats a hamburger
The guidelines also recommend annual monitoring of height, weight and body mass index (file)

If Kiwi kids don't get a good night's sleep they're more at risk of being obese, evidence shows.

The Ministry of Health has released new healthy weight guidelines, stressing the importance of quality sleep and the need to monitor kids' growth.

"This is the first time we are formally recognising the importance of quality sleep for children and young people as an aspect of weight management," says Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

Up to one in three toddlers and one in five teenagers don't get enough quality sleep, he says.

Recommended sleep for children

Toddlers should get 11 to 14 hours' sleep per day, 10-13 hours for pre-schoolers, and 9-11 hours for five-year-olds, the Ministry of Health recommends.

The guidelines also recommend annual monitoring of height, weight and body mass index (BMI) for all children and young people.

"With a focus on prevention, primary care practitioners are also encouraged to provide support when a child or young person is trending towards excess weight rather than waiting for them to become obese before intervening," says Dr Coleman.

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