University of Arkansas at Little Rock Logo

UALR magazine

Spring/Summer 2008 • Vol. springsummer No. 2008

  • home
  • printer-friendly

Investigating Obesity Epidemic in Children

Research that has global impact and implications doesn’t have to take place with colleagues in other countries.

Dr. Robert H. Bradley of the UALR Center for Applied Studies in Education worked with fellow researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to investigate the obesity epidemic in children. Solving this problem is particularly important, given that the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese.

The problem is prevalent throughout the world. In China, 16.7 percent of school-age boys and 9.6 percent of school-age girls were considered obese. In the UK, an estimated one in four 11 to 15-year-olds are considered obese.

Bradley’s research — published in the journal Pediatrics — suggests that not getting enough sleep may be adding to increasing rates of obesity among American children. The findings reveal that sixth graders with shorter nightly sleep durations were more likely to be overweight, and third graders who got fewer hours of sleep – regardless of their body mass index — were more likely to become overweight in the sixth grade.

From 1989 to 2004, Bradley and his colleagues studied 1,103 children from birth to the fifth grade “to investigate how important contexts contribute to trajectories of development from birth through middle childhood within the broader social ecology of work and family,” research funded by a grant from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.