Less sleep in infancy linked with excessive weight
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Infants who sleep an average of less than 12 hours per day have twice the risk of being overweight by age 3 as babies who get at least 12 hours of sleep per day, findings from the Project Viva study indicate.
"The adverse effect of sleep curtailment was especially marked among children who also watched at least 2 hours of television per day," Dr. Elsie M. Taveras and associates report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Previous research has shown an association between short sleep duration and obesity in older children, adolescents and adults. Taveras, with the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and her associates examined the relationship between sleep during infancy and weight in childhood.
The study involved 915 infants, whose mothers were asked at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years how many hours their child slept in a 24-hour period, including naps.
At age 3 years, 9 percent of children were overweight, which was defined as having a body mass index for age and sex in the 95th percentile or greater.
After subtracting the influence of other variables such as demographics, maternal characteristics, breast-feeding duration, and birth weight, the investigators found that infants who slept an average of less than 12 hours per day were almost twice as likely to be overweight.
Taveras's group also observed a much higher association between sleep duration of less than 12 hours per day and television viewing of more than 2 hours per day. This combination "markedly" increased the risk of becoming overweight by nearly 6 times.
"Our findings lend support to childhood overweight prevention interventions that target both reductions in television viewing and ensuring adequate sleep duration," the researchers conclude.
SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, April 2008.