British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Behaviour, Appetite and Obesity

Associations between sleeping habits and food consumption patterns among 10–11-year-old children in Finland

Lisa Westerlunda1, Carola Raya1a2 and Eva Roosa1a2 c1

a1 Folkhälsan Research Center, Paasikivenkatu 4, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

a2 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland


The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity among children is of special concern. Inverse associations between sleep length and overweight have been found in children. Short sleeping hours result in hormonal changes, which increase perceived hunger and appetite. This could affect food intake, and consequently lead to overweight. The aim is to find out whether there is an association between adequate sleep and food consumption among 10–11-year-old school children in Finland. One thousand two hundred and sixty-five children (response rate 79 %), aged 9–11, from thirty-one schools filled in a questionnaire about their health behaviour. Inadequate sleep was measured as short sleeping hours during school nights and weekend nights, difficulties in waking up in the morning and tiredness during the day. Food consumption patterns were measured by two consumption indices, energy-rich foods and nutrient-dense foods, based on a short FFQ (sixteen items). Inadequate sleep is associated with food consumption patterns. Boys with shorter sleep duration during school nights, and who were felt tired during the day, were more likely to consume energy-rich foods. Girls with shorter sleep duration during school nights consumed more likely energy-rich foods and less likely nutrient-dense foods. Adjusting for physical activity and screen time weakened the explored associations. The associations with energy-rich foods were stronger for boys than for girls. Sleeping habits are associated with food consumption patterns. Shorter sleep duration during school nights in school children is associated with higher consumption of energy-rich foods.

(Received October 02 2008)

(Revised May 13 2009)

(Accepted May 21 2009)

(Online publication August 07 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Eva Roos, fax +358 9 3155102, email