Obesity linked to less sleep in childhood

NZ Herald Nov 04, 2008

Less sleep in childhood equals more obesity in adulthood. That is the conclusion Otago University researchers have come to – showing a possible link between the obesity epidemic and a suggested decline in the number of hours children are sleeping. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study used data collected from 1000 Dunedin people born between 1972 and 1973.

The researchers used the “body mass index” of the group at 32 years old when 53 per cent were overweight including 18 per cent who were obese. They set those data against “time in bed” data from group members when they were 5, 7, 9 and 11 years old. Three categories were established for the data from the 5- to 11-year-olds – “short sleepers” spent a mean of up to 11 hours in bed, “moderate sleepers” had between 11 and 11.5 hours and “long sleepers” more than 11.5 hours. After discounting lifestyle factors, the study showed that “short sleep time in childhood was associated with an increased adult body mass index”.