Associations of sleep with food cravings and loss-of-control eating in youth: An ecological momentary assessment study

Megan N. Parker, Sarah LeMay-Russell, Natasha A. Schvey, Ross D. Crosby, Eliana Ramirez, Nichole R. Kelly, Lisa M. Shank, Meghan E. Byrne, Scott G. Engel, Taylor N. Swanson, Kweku G. Djan, Esther A. Kwarteng, Loie M. Faulkner, Anna Zenno, Sheila M. Brady, Susan Z. Yanovski, Marian Tanofsky-Kraff*, Jack A. Yanovski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Inconsistent sleep patterns may promote excess weight gain by increasing food cravings and loss-of-control (LOC)-eating; however, these relationships have not been elucidated in youth. Objective: We tested whether sleep duration and timing were associated with food cravings and LOC-eating. Method: For 14 days, youths wore actigraphy monitors to assess sleep and reported severity of food cravings and LOC-eating using ecological momentary assessment. Generalized linear mixed models tested the associations between weekly and nightly shifts in facets of sleep (i.e., duration, onset, midpoint, and waketime) and next-day food cravings and LOC-eating. Models were re-run adjusting for relevant covariates (e.g., age, sex, adiposity). Results: Among 48 youths (12.88 ± 2.69 years, 68.8% female, 33.3% with overweight/obesity), neither weekly nor nightly facets of sleep were significantly associated with food cravings (ps = 0.08–0.93). Youths with shorter weekly sleep duration (est. ß = −0.31, p = 0.004), earlier weekly midpoints (est. ß = −0.47, p = 0.010) and later weekly waketimes (est. ß = 0.49, p = 0.010) reported greater LOC-eating severity; findings persisted in adjusted models. Conclusions: In youth, weekly, but not nightly, shifts in multiple facets of sleep were associated with LOC-eating severity; associations were not significant for food cravings. Sleep should be assessed as a potentially modifiable target in paediatric LOC-eating and obesity prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12851
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


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