The study found no evidence of a specific period during which insufficient sleep has greater influence on later obesity.

"Getting less than recommended amounts of sleep across early childhood is an independent and strong risk factor for obesity and adiposity," said Elsie Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) in US.

Contrary to some published studies, we did not find a particular 'critical period' for the influence of sleep duration on weight gain, Taveras added.

Instead, insufficient sleep at any time in early childhood had adverse effects.

Overall, children with the lowest sleep scores had the highest levels of all body measurements reflecting obesity and adiposity, including abdominal fat which is considered to be particularly hazardous, the study noted.

The association was consistent at all ages, indicting there was no critical period for the interaction between sleep and weight.

The study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.


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