Short Sleep Duration in the First Years of Life and Obesity/Overweight at Age 4 Years: A Birth Cohort Study

J Pediatr. 2016 Jan:168:99-103.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.09.074. Epub 2015 Nov 2.


Objective: To investigate whether short sleep duration from the first year of life influenced weight at an early age.

Study design: During 2004, children born in Pelotas, Brazil, were enrolled in a cohort study. Sleeping habits during the previous 2 weeks were assessed, and the children were weighed and measured at 1-, 2-, and 4-year follow-ups. Overweight and obesity at 4 years were defined according to World Health Organization z-scores for body mass index for age. Short sleep duration was defined as fewer than 10 hours of sleep per night at any follow-up.

Results: Out of the 4263 live births, 4231 were recruited. The prevalence of short sleep duration at any follow-up from 1-4 years of age was 10.1%. At 4 years of age, 201 children were obese (5.3%), and 302 (8%) were overweight. Among short sleepers, the prevalence ratio for overweight/obesity after adjusting for maternal and children's characteristics was 1.32 (1.03; 1.70).

Conclusions: Children who slept for fewer than 10 hours per night at any follow-up from 1-4 years of age were more likely to be overweight or obese at 4 years of age, despite their sociodemographic and sleep characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Time Factors