Targeting Sleep, Food, and Activity in Infants for Obesity Prevention: An RCT

Pediatrics. 2017 Mar;139(3):e20162037. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2037.


Objective: The few existing early-life obesity prevention initiatives have concentrated on nutrition and physical activity, with little examination of sleep.

Methods: This community-based, randomized controlled trial allocated 802 pregnant women (≥16 years, <34 weeks' gestation) to: control, FAB (food, activity, and breastfeeding), sleep, or combination (both interventions) groups. All groups received standard well-child care. FAB participants received additional support (8 contacts) promoting breastfeeding, healthy eating, and physical activity (antenatal-18 months). Sleep participants received 2 sessions (antenatal, 3 weeks) targeting prevention of sleep problems, as well as a sleep treatment program if requested (6-24 months). Combination participants received both interventions (9 contacts). BMI was measured at 24 months by researchers blinded to group allocation, and secondary outcomes (diet, physical activity, sleep) were assessed by using a questionnaire or accelerometry at multiple time points.

Results: At 2 years, 686 women remained in the study (86%). No significant intervention effect was observed for BMI at 24 months (P = .086), but there was an overall group effect for the prevalence of obesity (P = .027). Exploratory analyses found a protective effect for obesity among those receiving the "sleep intervention" (sleep and combination compared with FAB and control: odds ratio, 0.54 [95% confidence interval, 0.35-0.82]). No effect was observed for the "FAB intervention" (FAB and combination compared with sleep and control: odds ratio, 1.20 [95% confidence interval, 0.80-1.81]).

Conclusions: A well-developed food and activity intervention did not seem to affect children's weight status. However, further research on more intensive or longer running sleep interventions is warranted.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • New Zealand
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Hygiene*