Children who get insufficient sleep at night are more likely to become overweight, according to researchers in New Zealand.
A study,published on the BMJ website, followed 244 children between the ages of three and seven. It said more sleep was linked to a lower weight, which could have important public health consequences. UK experts said there was "no harm" in drawing attention to the link between reduced sleep and ill health.
The children were seen every six months when their weight, height and body fat were measured. Their sleeping habits and physical-activity levels were recorded at ages three, four and five. The researchers found that those children who had less sleep in their earlier years were at greater risk of having a higher Body Mass Index at age seven.
This link continued even when other risk factors, such as gender and physical activity, were accounted for in their research.