Background: A short sleep duration is associated with a higher obesity risk from midchildhood onward. However, whether sleep duration in early childhood is associated with body composition and cardiometabolic health remains unclear. This study aims to examine the prospective association of sleep duration in infancy and early childhood with body composition and cardiometabolic health at 6 years of age. Methods: Data were available for 5161 children from a population-based cohort in the Netherlands. Sleep duration was assessed at ages 2, 6, 24, and 36 months by parental reports. When children were 6 years old, measures of body composition (iDXA), blood pressure, insulin, and lipid levels were collected. Longitudinal associations among sleep duration, body composition, and cardiometabolic health were studied with multivariable linear regression analyses. In addition, potential bidirectional associations between sleep duration and BMI were studied by using cross-lagged modeling. Results: Shorter sleep duration at 2 months predicted higher BMI and fat mass in 6-year-old children, accounting for confounders and BMI at 2 months (e.g., for BMI, per hour sleep, B = -0.018, 95% CI = -0.026; -0.009). No temporal relationships among sleep duration at other ages, later body composition, and cardiometabolic outcomes were found. The cross-lagged model indicated a bidirectional association between sleep duration and BMI in early life (2 to 6 months of age). Conclusions: Shorter sleep duration at 2 months, but not at later ages, predicted poorer body composition 6 years later. We found no clear evidence for an effect of sleep duration in early life on cardiometabolic health.

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Keywords body composition, cardiometabolic health, childhood obesity, fat mass, sleep duration
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Journal Childhood Obesity
Derks, I.P.M., Kocevska, D, Jaddoe, V.W.V, Franco, O.H, Wake, M, Tiemeier, H.W, & Jansen, P.W. (2017). Longitudinal Associations of Sleep Duration in Infancy and Early Childhood with Body Composition and Cardiometabolic Health at the Age of 6 Years: The Generation R Study. Childhood Obesity, 13(5), 400–408. Retrieved from