(HealthDay News) — For young children aged 6 months–7 years, chronic sleep curtailment correlates with increased body mass index (BMI) z score in mid-childhood and with higher overall and central adiposity, according to a study published online May 19 in Pediatrics.

Elsie M. Taveras, MD, MPH, from the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlation between chronic sleep curtailment in childhood with total and central adiposity in a cohort of 1,046 children. Mothers reported their children’s sleep duration at age 6 months and annually from age 1–7 years. A sleep curtailment score was used, which ranged from 0 (indicating the maximal sleep curtailment) to 13 (indicating never having curtailed sleep). Outcomes were measured in mid-childhood.

The researchers found that children with a sleep score of 0–4 had a BMI z score that was 0.48 units (95% confidence interval, 0.13–0.83) higher than those with a sleep score of 12–13, after multivariate adjustment. Similar correlations were seen for higher total and trunk fat mass index and waist and hip circumferences. The odds of obesity were higher for children with a score of 0 to 4 vs. 12 to 13 (odds ratio, 2.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.99 to 6.97).

“Chronic sleep curtailment from infancy to school age was associated with higher overall and central adiposity in mid-childhood,” the authors write.

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