Introduction: Over the past decades, children have been increasingly using screen devices, while at the same time their sleep duration has decreased. Both behaviors have been associated with excess weight, and it is possible they act as mutually reinforcing behaviors for weight gain. The aim of the study was to explore independent, prospective associations of screen time and sleep duration with incident overweight in a sample of European children. Methods: Data from 4,285 children of the IDEFICS/I.Family cohort who were followed up from 2009/2010 to 2013/2014 were analyzed. Hours per day of screen time and of sleep duration were reported by parents at baseline. Logistic regression analyses were carried out in separate and mutually adjusted models controlled for sex, age, European country region, parental level of education, and baseline BMI z-scores. Results: Among normal weight children at baseline (N = 3,734), separate models suggest that every hour increase in screen time and every hour decrease in sleep duration were associated with higher odds of the child becoming overweight or obese at follow-up (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.02–1.32 and OR = 1.23, 95% CI: 1.05–1.43, respectively). In the mutually adjusted model, both associations were attenuated slightly ( screen time OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 0.99–1.28; sleep duration OR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.03–1.40), being consistently somewhat stronger for sleep duration. Discussion/Conclusion: Both screen time and sleep duration increased the incidence of overweight or obesity by 13–20%. Interventions that include an emphasis on adequate sleep and minimal screen time are needed to establish their causal role in the prevention of overweight and obesity among European children.
Published online: 1. November 2021.
- Sleep time
- Screen duration