Last week the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) released a new consensus report, “Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies.”  The IOM reviewed factors related to overweight and obesity from birth to age 5, recommending actions that health-care professionals, caregivers and policymakers can take to prevent obesity in young children.

In addition to recommending an increase in physical activity and the promotion of healthy eating, the IOM also made two recommendations related to sleep:

  • “Child care regulatory agencies should require child care providers to adopt practices that promote age-appropriate sleep durations.”
  • “Health and education profession­als should be trained in how to counsel parents about their children’s age-appropriate sleep durations.”

The IOM also provided four sleep-related potential actions including, “seeking consultation yearly from an expert on healthy sleep durations and practices.”  The report noted that almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length, and slightly more than 20 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 already are overweight or obese.