Sleep duration and obesity in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

J Paediatr Child Health. 2017 Apr;53(4):378-385. doi: 10.1111/jpc.13434. Epub 2017 Jan 10.


Aim: Childhood obesity is a major public problem worldwide, and sleep duration may be associated with childhood obesity. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies to estimate the associations between sleep duration and obesity/body mass index (BMI) in children.

Methods: PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library were searched. For the meta-analysis, the pooled relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated to reveal the association between short sleep duration and obesity. For the review, the outcomes focused on BMI change or subsequent BMI status.

Results: A total of 12 studies (15 populations) met the criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis. Short sleep duration was significantly associated with obesity (RR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.14-1.85). After excluding two cohorts that substantially affected the heterogeneity, the pooled results remained significant (RR: 1.30; 95% CI: 1.20-1.42), and the association was not substantially altered in the subgroup analysis. In addition, we summarised 24 studies that met the criteria for our review of the relationship between sleeping and BMI.

Conclusion: The present meta-analysis indicated that short sleep duration increased the risk of childhood obesity. Public health efforts that encourage children to have sufficient sleep time may be important in combating obesity.

Keywords: body mass index; child; meta-analysis; obesity; sleep duration.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Deprivation*