Childhood overweight or obesity has been a hot topic among people. This is because the extra weight accumulated in the body of these youngsters may greatly increase their risk of become victims of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and even cancer in their life later.
Many causes, for example, over-eating and physical inactivity, can actually help a person gain weight or become obese. Nevertheless, a recent study revealed that babies with insufficient sleep could become overweight too!
Published in the “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine”, the findings from the so-called “Project Viva” study indicated that infants who sleep an average of less than 12 hours per day have doubled their risk of being overweight by the age of 3, compared to babies who get at least 12 hours of sleep per day
The adverse effect of shorter sleep duration was especially obvious among children who also watched at least 2 hours of television per day.
Previous research has already linked short sleep duration to obesity in older children, adolescents and adults, but the current study examined the relationship between the hours of sleep during infancy and weight in childhood.
The mothers of 915 infants who were involved in the study were asked at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years how many hours their child slept in a 24-hour period, including naps. At the age of 3, 9 percent of children were overweight, which was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) for age and sex in the 95th percentile or greater.
After removing the influence of other variables like demographics, maternal characteristics, breast-feeding duration, and birth weight, the researchers found that infants who slept an average of less than 12 hours per day were almost twice as likely to be overweight.
Moreover, a much higher association between sleep duration of less than 12 hours per day and television viewing of more than 2 hours per day was also noted. Such combination significantly raises the chances of becoming overweight by nearly 6 times.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggested that childhood overweight prevention should target not only on the reduction in television viewing but also on making sure adequate sleep duration.