Background: Prior studies have supported an association between insufficient sleep and childhood obesity, but most have not examined nationally representative samples or considered potential sociodemographic confounders. Objective: The main objective of this study was to use a large, nationally representative dataset to examine the possibility that insufficient sleep is associated with obesity in children, independent of sociodemographic factors. Methods: The National Survey of Children's Health is a national survey of U.S. households contacted by random digit dialing. In 2003, caregivers of 102,353 US children were surveyed. Age- and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) based on parental report of child height and weight, was available for 81,390 children aged 6-17 years. Caregivers were asked, "How many nights of sufficient sleep did your child have in the past week?" The odds of obesity (BMI ≥ 95th percentile) versus healthy weight (BMI 5th-84th percentile) was regressed on reported nights of sufficient sleep per week (categorized as 0-2, 3-5, or 6-7). Sociodemographic variables included gender, race, household education, and family income. Analyses incorporated sampling weights to derive nationally representative estimates for a 2003 population of 34 million youth. Results: Unadjusted bivariate analyses indicated that children aged 6-11 years with 0-2 nights of sufficient sleep, in comparison to those with 6-7 nights, were more likely to be obese (OR = 1.7, 95% CI [1.2-2.3]). Among children aged 12-17 years, odds of obesity were lower among children with 3-5 nights of sufficient sleep in comparison to those with 6-7 nights (0.8, 95% CI: 0.7-0.9). However, in both age groups, adjustment for race/ethnicity, gender, family income, and household education left no remaining statistical significance for the association between sufficient nights of sleep and BMI. Conclusion: In this national sample, insufficient sleep, as judged by parents, is inconsistently associated with obesity in bivariate analyses, and not associated with obesity after adjustment for sociodemographic variables. These findings from a nationally representative sample are necessarily subject to parental perceptions, but nonetheless serve as an important reminder that the role of insufficient sleep in the childhood obesity epidemic remains unproven.
- Sleep deprivation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Clinical Neurology