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Infants Who Sleep Less at Increased Risk for Childhood Weight Gain

Posted Oct 03 2008 12:52pm

Here is an interesting review of research into weight gain in childhood. The researchers found infants who slept, on average, less than 12 hours per day were more likely to be overweight than their peers, even when other factors were controlled. In fact, the average amount of television watching was examined, and was found to have a minimal effect on weight gain, except when combined with less sleep. That combination actually led to the highest average weight gain. From the study:

The infants as a group slept an average of 12.3 hours per day. At the age of three, 9% of the children in the study (83) were overweight. After adjusting for other factors that influence a child's weight, such as the body mass index of the mother before pregnancy, the infants who slept less than 12 hours per day had a higher body mass index for their age and sex, a higher skinfold thickness, and were more likely to be overweight at the age of three.

The authors indicated the precise relationship between sleep and later weight gain is not completely understood. Hormone levels, less activity due to fatigue, and simply more time available to eat are all considered possibilities. It is also suggested techniques continue to be developed to aid parents in ensuring their infants and children get enough sleep.

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