(ABC) -Studies involving children and their weight are not yielding encouraging results. What's worse, kids are setting themselves up for health problems later in life even earlier.
In 2012, more than one-third of children in the U.S. were overweight or even obese. A recent study in the journal pediatrics found that a contributing factor is lack of sleep.
"Sleep is important for so many things. Ranging from good growth, helping your immune system, heart health, good behavior and the ability to focus and concentrate and learn well in school. Not enough sleep may mean not suppressing the appetite and making you want to eat more, taking in more calories, as well as carbohydrates in general," said Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician at Children's Medical Group in Atlanta.
That can cause a whole host of health problems.
"Too much eating eventually, along with obesity, eventually can cause problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes. So, everything's interrelated, we want everything to be in balance and that includes your nutrition, your sleep and your exercise. And so we do recommend that kids get the right amount of sleep recommended for their age, at least an hour of exercise a day, and to eat a healthy diet," Dr. Shu said.
How much sleep do children need? According to the CDC, newborns should be sleeping on average 16-18 hours a day, preschool aged kids, 11-12 hours, and school aged children should sleep about 10 hours a night. Doctors say make sure to monitor what your children are eating. No amount of sleep can battle the bulge if they're not getting a healthy diet.