Sound sleep very early in life is the best insurance against obesity, a research has found.

Babies, toddlers and pre-school children sleeping less than 10 hours a night are more likely to be overweight as they age.

Experts believe that lack of sleep causes one to feel hunger and crave calorie-rich snacks during the day, reports Daily Mail.

Previous research has linked sleep deprivation with obesity in adults and teenagers, but this is one of the first to look at very small children, says the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers from the Universities of Washington and California examined sleeping habits of almost 1,000 children less than five years old.

They found that those who sleep less than 10 hours were twice as likely to be overweight five years later with some even clinically obese.

The study also looked at children aged five to 13 but did not find any significant trends.

And around 10 percent of six year olds are obese -- with rates predicted to rise significantly over the next few years.

Last year, Chinese researchers looked at more than 5,000 youngsters and found that those who were able to catch up on sleep at the weekend were far less likely to pile on the pounds.

Scientists have also found a link between lack of sleep and Type-2 diabetes.

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