A cohort of children considered short sleepers were more likely to consume carbohydrates during a lunch buffet test meal vs. children who slept at least 7 hours per night, although researchers did not observe an association between sleep duration and most metabolic syndrome components, according to findings published in Pediatric Obesity.
“Existing literature regarding the associations for sleep patterns with body composition and [energy intake] have overwhelmingly relied on self-report measures,” Nichole R. Kelly, PhD, assistant professor in the counseling psychology and human services department and the Prevention Science Institute at the University of Oregon, and colleagues wrote. “Children are notoriously biased in their reports of their own eating habits and typically overestimate their total sleep duration. Moreover, few studies have examined the link between children’s sleep patterns and other indicators of health risk.”
Kelly and colleagues analyzed data from 125 healthy children aged 8 to 17 years who wore wrist accelerometers for 14 nights as part of the Children’s Growth and Behavior Study (mean age, 12 years; 55% girls; 46% white; mean BMI z score, 0.57). Researchers measured blood pressure and fasting levels of lipids, blood glucose and insulin, as well as waist circumference and body composition via DXA. Participants filled out a sleep diary twice a day for 14 days (wake-up time and bedtime). Energy intake was assessed during an ad libitum buffet meal. Researchers used linear regression analyses to examine the main effects of total sleep time and bedtime on metabolic syndrome variables (waist circumference, BP, cholesterol level, triglyceride level and insulin resistance).
Researchers found that later weekday and weekend bedtimes were associated with higher systolic BP z scores (P < .05 for both), but not waist circumference z scores. Sleep duration and bedtime were also not associated with other components of metabolic syndrome, body composition or energy intake, according to researchers; however, short sleepers consumed a greater percentage of carbohydrates vs. children who slept at least 7 hours per night (P < .05). There were no between-group differences with respect to protein consumption (P = .47) or fat consumption (P = .06), according to researchers.
“Contrary to our hypotheses, the large majority of these associations were nonsignificant,” the researchers wrote. “However, children who slept less than 7 hours per night consumed a greater percentage of carbohydrates during a lunch buffet test meal compared with their peers who slept more than 7 hours, consistent with previous findings.”
The researchers noted that the observed greater consumption of carbohydrates associated with short sleep duration may be a primary mechanism through which these children experience increased risks for obesity and obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
“While previous research has found an association between short sleep duration and metabolic functioning in children, our study indicated that specific indicators of sleep duration are variably associated with children’s eating patterns and risk for chronic disease,” the researchers wrote. “Prospective data are needed to determine whether these indicators represent unique or shared risk factors for poor health outcomes.” – by Regina Schaffer
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.