Shorter sleepers are over-eaters

March 24, 2014

Young children who sleep less eat more, which can lead to obesity and related health problems later in life, reports a new study by UCL researchers.

The study found that 16 month-old who slept for less than 10 hours each day consumed on average 105kcal more per day than children who slept for more than 13 hours. This is an increase of around 10% from 982kcal to 1087kcal.

Associations between eating, weight and sleep have been reported previously in older children and adults, but the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, is the first to directly link sleep to energy intake in children under the age of 3 years. The association was observed before differences in weight emerged, strongly suggesting that energy intake is a key pathway through which sleep contributes to weight gain in early childhood. While the exact causes remain unclear, the regulation of appetite hormones may become disrupted by shorter sleeping patterns.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, involved 1303 UK families in the Gemini birth cohort, monitoring sleep when children were 16 months old and diet at 21 months old.

"We know that shorter sleep in early life increases the risk of , so we wanted to understand whether shorter sleeping children consume more calories" explains Dr Abi Fisher of the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL. "Previous studies in adults and older children have shown that sleep loss causes people to eat more, but in early life parents make most of the decisions about when and how much their children , so cannot be assumed to show the same patterns.

"The key message here is that shorter sleeping children may prone to consume too many calories," says Dr Fisher. "Although more research is needed to understand why this might be, it is something parents should be made aware of."

Explore further: TV viewing time linked to sleep duration in children

Related Stories

TV viewing time linked to sleep duration in children

March 12, 2014
(HealthDay)—For children, television viewing time is inversely associated with sleep duration, according to a study published online March 10 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Reading to toddlers before naps significantly enhances learning

February 17, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A connection between sleep and learning has already been identified as beneficial for adults and older children. Now Sussex psychologists Dr Jessica Horst and PhD candidate Sophie Williams have shown that ...

Kids who sleep more, may eat less, new study finds

November 4, 2013
It seems everyone is looking for a culprit when it comes to childhood obesity: fast food, sugary drinks, super-sized everything. But it turns out part of the blame may lie with the simple matter of turning out the lights ...

Children's sleep patterns tracked for the first time by researchers

December 17, 2013
Sleep patterns of children and how many hours may be optimal for their health and wellbeing has been tracked and recorded for the first time by researchers at the Institute.

Don't lose sleep over weight, scientists say

May 10, 2012
A lack of sleep could make you fat, scientists said on Thursday.

Researchers explore childhood development and sleep patterns

July 24, 2013
Be it the stress of poor work-life balance and everyday living or the seemingly endless stream of technological advancement unleashed globally on a daily basis, sleep patterns have become neglected for some and nightmarish ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 90 percent of American men overfat

July 24, 2017
Does your waist measure more than half your height?

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.