Children risk obesity ‘owing to lack of sleep’

A third of primary school children are not getting enough sleep, putting them at risk of obesity, experts have warned.

A new poll found that 43% of adults sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night.

Around a third of primary and 70% of secondary school pupils sleep for less than nine hours – the absolute minimum they should get.

The survey covered more than 6,000 primary and secondary school children and just over 1,500 adults.

It also found that 80 per cent of adults and 50 per cent of secondary school students reported waking up at least once during the previous night.

Screens may be to blame for disturbed sleep, the poll suggests, with 59 per cent of secondary school pupils, 50 per cent of adults and 49 per cent of primary school children saying they used a screen before bed on the previous night.

The poll also looked at breakfast habits and found that a quarter of secondary school pupils did not eat breakfast on the day of the survey, with one in 10 primary children saying the same.

Only 18 per cent of secondary school students reported including any fruit or vegetables in their first meal of the day.

Dr Lucy Chambers, senior scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: ‘The implications of a bad night’s sleep can go much further than feeling tired.

‘Where lack of, and disturbed, sleep can lead to both adults and young people feeling grumpy and irritable, regular poor-quality sleep can have a negative impact on dietary choices, including higher intakes of calories and more frequent snacking on less healthy foods.’