Sleep Duration, Cycle Linked to Childhood Body Weight

Shorter sleep duration, more fragmented circadian rhythms, increased intradaily variability tied to BMI

sleeping girl

FRIDAY, Jan. 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Sleep duration and circadian components of the sleep/wake cycle are linked to obesity-related eating behaviors and childhood body weight, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Special Conference -- Obesity and Cancer: Mechanisms Underlying Etiology and Outcomes -- held from Jan. 27 to 30 in Austin, Texas.

Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues examined sleep duration and circadian components of the sleep/wake cycle and their correlation with body mass index (BMI) and eating behaviors in a sample of 92 children. Children underwent weight and height measurements and completed the eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) task.

The researchers observed a correlation for shorter sleep duration with higher BMI z-score (β = −0.17; P = 0.03). There were correlations for more fragmented circadian rhythms and increased intradaily variability with a higher BMI z score (β = −1.87; P = 0.03 and β = 1.46; P = 0.05). On the EAH task, later onset of diurnal activity was correlated with greater caloric intake in the absence of hunger (β = −0.001; P = 0.01).

"Today, many children are not getting enough sleep," Fuemmeler said in a statement. "This, perpetuated over time, can be a risk factor for obesity. Because of the strong links between obesity and many types of cancer, childhood obesity prevention is cancer prevention, in my view."

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