Lack of sleep leads to obesity in children and adolescents

April 16, 2018, University of Warwick
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Children who get less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age are at a higher risk of developing obesity.

Research at the University of Warwick has found that and adolescents who regularly less than others of the same age gain more weight when they grow older and are more likely to become overweight or obese.

One of the co-authors, Dr. Michelle Miller, Reader of Biochemical Medicine, Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School said: "Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes which is also on the increase in children. The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future ."

The paper, Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, has been published in the journal Sleep. The paper's authors reviewed the results of 42 population studies of infants, children and adolescents aged 0 to 18 years which included a total of 75,499 participants. Their average was assessed through a variety of methods, from questionnaires to wearable technology.

The participants were grouped into two classifications: short sleeper and regular sleepers. Short sleepers were defined as having less sleep than the reference category for their age. This was based on the most recent National Sleep Foundation guidelines in the U.S. which recommends that infants (4 to 11 months) get between 12-15 hours of nightly sleep, that toddlers (1-2 years) get 11-14 hours of sleep, children in pre-school (3-5 years) get 10-13 hours and school aged children (6-13 years) between 9 and 11 hours. Teenagers (14-17 years) are advised to get 8-10 hours.

Participants were followed up for a median period of three years and changes in BMI and incidences of overweight and/or obesity were recorded over time. At all ages gained more weight and overall were 58% more likely to become overweight or obese.

Dr. Miller said: "The results showed a consistent relationship across all ages indicating that the increased risk is present in both younger and older children. The study also reinforces the concept that is an important risk factor for obesity, detectable very early on in life."

Co-author Professor Francesco Cappuccio added: "By appraising world literature we were able to demonstrate that, despite some variation between studies, there is a strikingly consistent overall prospective association between short sleep and obesity.

"This study builds on our previous analysis of cross-sectional data published in 2008. The importance of the latest approach is that only prospective longitudinal studies were included, demonstrating that short sleep precedes the development of obesity in later years, strongly suggesting causality."

The prevalence of obesity has increased world-wide and the World Health Organization has now declared it a global epidemic. The paper's authors stress that whilst healthy eating and exercise are important this study demonstrates that getting enough sleep is equally important. They suggest that educational programmes could be used to empower parents and children to maximise their sleep quantity.

Explore further: CDC: Many school children are not getting enough sleep

More information: Michelle A Miller et al. Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children, and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, Sleep (2018). DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsy018

Related Stories

CDC: Many school children are not getting enough sleep

January 30, 2018
(HealthDay)—Many middle school and high school students have short sleep duration, according to research published in the Jan. 26 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly ...

How much sleep do you really need?

July 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—Health initiatives typically center on diet and fitness. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society state that getting enough sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising.

Kids' sleep guidelines spell out shut-eye guidance by age

June 13, 2016
Parental warning: Don't lose sleep over new guidelines on how much shut-eye your kids should be getting.

Recommended for you

Weight loss can be boosted fivefold thanks to novel mental imagery technique

September 24, 2018
Overweight people who used a new motivational intervention called Functional Imagery Training (FIT) lost an average of five times more weight than those using talking therapy alone, shows new research published today by the ...

Overweight pregnant women can safely cut calories, restrict weight gain

September 24, 2018
Being obese or overweight during pregnancy can result in serious health problems for the mother and child. Obstetricians are often reluctant to recommend restricted weight gain for pregnant women due to safety concerns for ...

India launches 'Modicare', world's biggest health scheme

September 23, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the world's biggest health insurance scheme, promising free coverage for half a billion of India's poorest citizens ahead of national elections next year.

Alcohol responsible for one in 20 deaths worldwide: WHO

September 21, 2018
Alcohol kills three million people worldwide each year—more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined, the World Health Organization said Friday, adding that men are particularly at risk.

Patient-centered visual aid helps physicians discuss risks, treatments with parents

September 21, 2018
A series of illustrations and charts designed as decision aids for parents of children with minor head injuries helped them communicate with emergency medicine physicians and make informed decisions about their child's care, ...

Smart pills dumb down medical care, experts warn

September 21, 2018
Enthusiasm for an emerging digital health tool, the smart pill, is on the rise but researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have published a paper in the American Journal of Bioethics that cautions health care ...

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.