Shorter sleepers are over-eaters

March 24, 2014, University College London

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

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

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.