Excess Sleepiness in Children associated with Obesity

You may already know that childhood obesity is linked to an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes. But did you know that childhood obesity is also directly linked to excessive daytime sleepiness? Known as EDS, excessive daytime sleepiness is the inability to stay awake during the day. In children, EDS can adversely affect daytime activities, including the ability to concentrate and succeed academically.

The risk for developing EDS was traditionally thought to be associated with sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea. However, a new study finds that obesity and asthma in children are key factors that greatly increase a child’s risk for developing EDS.

Researchers found that waist circumference, a history of asthma, and the use of asthma medications directly correlates with an increased risk for EDS. Underlying depression and anxiety also increases the risk for EDS.

Today, nearly 15% of children suffer from EDS, although many are incorrectly diagnosed or not diagnosed at all. EDS can sometimes be mistaken for laziness or boredom in children. If your child is overweight, it’s possible that he or she may be experiencing undiagnosed EDS symptoms. Key symptoms to look for include a general lack of energy and persistent sleepiness, even with apparently adequate nighttime rest. Poor academic performance or an inability to focus and pay attention in class may also indicate EDS.

If your child is overweight or struggling with childhood obesity, medical weight loss is important to reduce your child’s risk for developing EDS. Daily, physical activity and a well-balanced, healthy diet are critical for long-term weight loss success. If you are worried your child is not active enough naturally, sign them up for a youth sports team, dance lessons or martial arts classes. Get active together as a family and go hiking on the weekends or play outside. Also, make a healthy diet easier by eliminating take-out food, turning off the television, and eating meals together as a family.

With successful medical weight loss, your child will not only reduce the risk of developing EDS, but also be ready to live a long, healthy and fulfilling life.