Short sleep duration is related to risk for obesity in preschool children. However, the underlying mechanism(s) are not clear.
We evaluated the relationship between sleep characteristics with body composition, energetics and weight-regulating behaviors in preschool-aged children; and the longitudinal associations between children’s sleep and eating patterns with body composition at 1-year follow-up.
Data were drawn from a longitudinal study of 118 children aged 3-5 years. Sleep (duration, midpoint, regularity) and physical activity (PA) were measured by accelerometry over 6 consecutive days; total energy expenditure (TEE) using the doubly-labeled water method; body composition (fat mass, fat-free mass, and %body fat) by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry; and dietary intake (energy intake, timing) using two 24-h recalls. Multivariable regression was used to estimate interindividual associations of sleep parameters with body composition, PA, TEE and dietary outcomes; and to examine the relationship between sleep and dietary behaviors with body composition one year later.
Cross-sectionally, later sleep midpoint was associated with greater fat mass (0.33; 95% CI: 0.05, 0.60) and %body fat (0.92; 95% CI: 0.15, 1.70). Later sleep midpoint was associated with delayed morning (0.51; 95% CI: 0.28, 0.74) and evening meal times (0.41; 95% CI: 0.29, 0.53), higher nighttime (45.6; 95% CI: 19.7, 71.4), and lower morning (-44.8; 95% CI: -72.0, -17.6) energy intake. Longitudinally, shorter sleep duration (-0.02; 95% CI: -0.03, -0.00) and later meal timing (0.83; 95% CI: 0.24, 1.42) were associated with higher %body fat 1 year later.
Shorter sleep duration and later meal timing are associated with adiposity gain in preschoolers.