Impact of Childhood Sleep Patterns on Obesity Evaluated

Children who compensate for short sleep duration on non-school days may lower obesity risk

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- In children, getting more sleep on weekends and holidays may reduce the risk of overweight or obesity associated with reduced sleep during weekdays, according to a Chinese study published online Oct. 26 in Pediatrics.

Yun Kwok Wing, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues analyzed data from 5,159 children, ages 5 to 15, whose parents filled out questionnaires on the children's sleep patterns and their height and weight. The outcome measures the researchers used included body mass index z scores and obesity/overweight status.

The researchers found that the children slept significantly less during weekdays than holidays and weekends (9.18 hours versus 10.20 and 10.07 hours, respectively). Sleep duration was shown to have a weak but significant inverse relationship with body mass index. Children who slept less than eight hours during weekdays and didn't sleep more during weekends or holidays had a higher risk of overweight/obesity compared with children who compensated for their sleep deficit during non-school days (odds ratios, 2.59 for weekends and 2.32 for holidays).

"There was a prominent difference in sleep duration between weekdays and weekends/holidays among school children. Short sleep duration was associated with higher body mass index, but compensation of sleep during weekends/holidays may partly ameliorate the risk of childhood overweight/obesity," the authors conclude. "Further prospective and interventional study is needed to delineate the risk-benefit effect of these increasingly common sleep habits among children and adolescents."

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