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Less Sleep Tied to Greater Food Intake in Children

Differences in energy intake seen in young children, but not tied to differences in weight gain

WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Shorter nighttime sleep duration is tied with higher energy intake early in life, according to a study published online March 26 in the International Journal of Obesity.

Abigail Fisher, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues studied 1,303 families from the Gemini twin birth cohort. The Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire measured sleep duration when the children were 16 months old. Three-day diet diaries were completed by parents when children were 21 months old to track total energy intake and fat, carbohydrate, and protein intake.

The researchers found that shorter nighttime sleep was associated with higher total energy intake (P = 0.005), with children sleeping <10 hours consuming an average of 105 kcal/day more than those sleeping for ≥13 hours. These differences in energy intake remained after adjusting for confounders. There were no significant differences in macronutrient intake as a percentage of total energy intake by sleep duration. There was no significant association between sleep and weight (P = 0.13).

"That the effect is observed before emergence of associations between sleep and weight indicates that differences in energy intake may be a mechanism through which sleep influences weight gain," the authors write.

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