Original Article | Published:

Shorter sleep duration is associated with higher energy intake and an increase in BMI z-score in young children predisposed to overweight

International Journal of Obesity volume 42, pages 5964 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Background:

Inadequate sleep has been shown to be a contributor to obesity in both children and adults. Less evidence is available for toddlers and among those with higher obesity risk. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between sleep patterns and body weight development in a group of young obesity-predisposed children, and to assess whether intakes of energy or macronutrients mediate this relationship.

Methods:

Participants included 368 Danish children aged 2–6 years from the Healthy Start Study, a 1.3 year randomised controlled intervention trial. Sleep habits were measured using a 7-day sleep diary. Multivariate linear regression with adjustment for confounders was used to assess the association of sleep duration and sleep variability with 1.3 year changes (Δ) in body mass index (BMI) z-score from baseline to follow-up.

Results:

The average nighttime sleep duration was 10.7 h (range 8.8–12.5 h). After controlling for potential confounders, a significant inverse association between nighttime sleep duration and ΔBMI z-score (β=−0.090, P=0.046) was observed. This relationship was mediated by energy intake, with all macronutrients contributing to this mediation effect. No associations were found for sleep variability and ΔBMI z-score but baseline intake of added sugars and sugary beverages were positively associated with sleep variability.

Conclusion:

Shorter sleep duration, mediated by energy intake in early in life, seems a risk factor for weight gain among young obesity-predisposed children.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the participating families in the Healthy Start Study, and all employees involved in the data collection. The Healthy Start study was funded by the Tryg Foundation (grant: 7984-07, 7106-09 and 7-10-0330), the Danish Medical Research Council (grant: 271-07-0281) and the Health Insurance Foundation (grant: 2008B101). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia

    • A Rangan
    •  & M Zheng
  2. Research Unit for Dietary Studies, The Parker Institute, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals, the Capital Region, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • N J Olsen
    • , J F Rohde
    •  & B L Heitmann
  3. National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • J F Rohde
    •  & B L Heitmann
  4. Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating disorders, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia

    • B L Heitmann
  5. Institute of Public Health, Section for General Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • B L Heitmann

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A Rangan.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2017.216