Do young children consistently meet 24-h sleep and activity guidelines? A longitudinal analysis using actigraphy

Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Dec;43(12):2555-2564. doi: 10.1038/s41366-019-0432-y. Epub 2019 Sep 2.


Background: Existing studies examining adherence to 24-h movement guidelines in young children are mostly cross sectional and have not assessed additional guidelines relating to activity intensity or regularity in sleep patterns. The aims of this study were to determine adherence to full sleep, activity, and sedentary behaviour guidelines from 1-5 years of age, whether adherence tracked over time, and how adherence was related to body composition cross sectionally and prospectively.

Subjects/methods: Data were obtained from 547 children who were participants in a randomised controlled trial. At 1, 2, and 5 years of age, children wore Actical accelerometers 24-h a day for 5-7 days, height and weight were measured, and parents completed questionnaires on screen time and restraint (1 and 2 years only). A dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan measured body composition at 5 years of age.

Results: Although adherence to general sleep and activity guidelines was high, few children had regular sleep patterns. Adherence to all three guidelines ranged from 12.3 to 41.3% at the different ages, although these estimates decreased to 0.6-9.3% when activity intensity (60 min of energetic play) and sleep regularity (consistent sleep and wake times) were included. Children who met all three guidelines at a given age were more likely to meet all three guidelines at a subsequent age (odds ratio, 95% CI: 2.6, 1.04-6.4 at 1 year and 2.5, 1.1-5.9 at 2 years). However, adherence to meeting all three guidelines at earlier ages was not related to BMI z-score or body composition at age 5, either cross sectionally or prospectively.

Conclusions: Strategies to promote adherence to movement guidelines among young children are warranted, particularly to reduce screen time, and encouraging regular sleep patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Actigraphy*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep / physiology*