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Children with better, longer sleep more likely to have better weight

09 Nov 2019
The growing obsession with the internet is one of the reasons leading to sleep deprivation.

Longer sleep in children is tied to reduced body mass index (BMI) and lower risks of becoming overweight or obese, regardless of socioeconomic status, a recent study has found.

Researchers performed a cross-sectional analysis on 382 children (mean age, 8.47±0.45 years; 49.5 percent female), a quarter of whom were living at or below the poverty line. Participants were assessed at 12 months of age for their socioeconomic status, while sleep and weight indicators were evaluated at 8 years of age.

Longer sleep duration at 8 years correlated with significantly lower BMI (estimate, –0.50±0.23; p≤0.05) and the risk of becoming overweight or obese (odds ratio, 0.52, 95 percent confidence intervals [CI], 0.34–0.78; p≤0.01). No such effect was reported for percent body fat and waist circumference.

Moreover, socioeconomic status both at 12 months and at 8 years of life was not associated with any of the weight indicators.

Notably, despite having no main relationship with BMI, the effect of sleep efficiency appeared to be modified by early life socioeconomic status. In particular, greater sleep efficiency was significantly predictive of lower BMI only in children belonging to families of low socioeconomic status (p<0.001). In absolute terms, each 5-percent increase in sleep efficiency led to a 0.5-point decrease in BMI.

“Findings identify early socioeconomic status as a potent moderator of associations between sleep and weight indicators in middle childhood and inform clinicians that maximizing and improving child sleep quantity and quality may be candidate targets for interventions looking to reduce BMI and obesity, particularly for children who experience fewer resources early in life,” said researchers.

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