BEIJING, Sept. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Infants and young children who don't sleep enough at night have a higher risk of obesity later on in life, said a study published in the September issue Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
In the study, 1,930 U.S. children were divided into two age groups: one month to 59 months and 5 years to 13 years.
The younger children in the study slept 10 hours a night and the older children slept around 9.5 hours, but some children in both age groups got as little as five hours' sleep a night.
After five-year followup, 33 percent of the younger children and 36 percent of the older children were overweight or obese.
Among the younger children, lack of sufficient nighttime sleep at baseline was associated with increased risk for later overweight or obesity.
Among the older children, a lack of nighttime sleep was associated with increased risk of a shift from normal weight to overweight and from overweight to obesity, the study found.
"These findings suggest that there is a critical window prior to age five years when nighttime sleep may be important for subsequent obesity status," the study said.
"Napping had no effects on the development of obesity and is not a substitute for sufficient nighttime sleep," according to the study.
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