• Article

Nighttime sleep duration and sleep behaviors among low-income toddlers Associations with obesogenic behaviors and obesity and the role of parenting


Shortened sleep duration is associated with poor health and obesity among young children. Little is known about relationships among nighttime sleep duration, sleep behaviors, and obesogenic behaviors/obesity among toddlers. This study characterizes sleep behaviors/duration and examines relationships with obesogenic behaviors/obesity among toddlers from low-income families.


Mothers of toddlers (age 12-32 months) were recruited from urban/suburban sites serving low-income families. Mothers provided demographic information and completed the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire (BISQ); a 6-item Toddler Sleep Behavior Scale was derived (TSBS-BISQ, higher score reflects more recommended behaviors). Toddler weight/length were measured; obesity defined as ≥95th percentile weight-for-length. Measures of obesogenic behaviors: physical activity [accelerometry, minutes/day in Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA)] and diet quality [24-hour recall, Healthy Eating Index 2005 (HEI-2005)]. Bivariate and adjusted multivariable models examined associations between nighttime sleep behaviors/duration and obesogenic behaviors/obesity.


Sample included 240 toddlers (mean age = 20.2 months), 55% male, 69% black, 59% urban. Toddlers spent 55.4 minutes/day in MVPA, mean HEI-2005 score was 55.4, 13% were obese. Mean sleep duration was 9.1 hours, with 35% endorsing 5-6 recommended sleep behaviors (TSBS-BISQ). In multivariable models, MVPA was positively related to sleep duration; obese toddlers had a shorter nighttime sleep duration than healthy weight toddlers [odds ratio = 0.69, p = 0.014]. Nighttime sleep duration was associated with high TSBS-BISQ scores, F = 6.1, p = 0.003.


Toddlers with a shorter nighttime sleep duration are at higher risk for obesity and inactivity. Interventions to promote healthy sleep behaviors among toddlers from low-income families may improve nighttime sleep duration and reduce obesogenic behaviors/obesity.


Hager, ER., Calamaro, CJ., Bentley, LM., Hurley, KM., Wang, Y., & Black, M. (2016). Nighttime sleep duration and sleep behaviors among low-income toddlers: Associations with obesogenic behaviors and obesity and the role of parenting. Childhood Obesity, 12(5), 392-400. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2015.0252

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