Do Childhood Sleeping Problems Predict Obesity in Young Adulthood? Evidence from a Prospective Birth Cohort Study
It has been suggested that sleeping problems are causally associated with obesity in early life, but most studies examining this association have been cross-sectional. The authors used a population-based birth cohort of 2,494 children who were born between 1981 and 1983 in Brisbane, Australia, to examine the prospective association between early-life sleeping problems (at ages 6 months and 2-4 years) and obesity at age 21 years. The authors compared mean body mass indices (BMIs; weight (kg)/height (m)2) and persons in the categories of overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9) and obesity (BMI > or =30) among offspring at age 21 years according to maternally reported childhood sleeping problems. They found that young adult BMI and the prevalence of obesity were greater in offspring who had had sleeping problems at ages 2-4 years than in with those who had not had sleeping problems. These associations were robust to adjustment for a variety of potential confounders, including offspring sex, maternal mental health, and BMI, and several mediators, including adolescent dietary patterns and television-watching. These findings provide some evidence for a long-term impact of childhood sleeping problems on the later development of obesity.