Short sleep is associated with obesity among truck drivers

Chronobiol Int. 2006;23(6):1295-303. doi: 10.1080/07420520601089521.


Recent studies suggest that short-sleep duration is independently associated with obesity in the general population. The population of truck drivers is of particular interest, because they frequently work irregular shifts that in turn are associated with short-sleep duration. In addition, truck drivers have a high prevalence of sedentary habits, poor diet, and obesity. The present study aimed at verifying the association between sleep patterns and factors associated with obesity in this population. The study sample consisted in 4,878 truck drivers who participated in a campaign promoted by a highway company in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. This campaign offered highway truck drivers a medical and laboratorial evaluation. The truck drivers completed a questionnaire concerning demographic data, sleep duration, consumption of medications, and medical problems, such as diabetes, cardiopathy, and hypertension; as well as the Berlin questionnaire, which is able to discriminate low and high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Blood samples were collected to measure glucose and cholesterol levels. Also, body weight and height were registered to calculate the body mass index (BMI). The mean age (+/-SD) of the truck drivers studied was 40+/-10 years. Out of the truck drivers analyzed, 28.3% (n = 1,379) had a BMI > or =30.0 Kg/m2 (obesity). Among the 4,878 drivers included in the study, 1,199 (24.6%) were on medications and 334 (6.8%) were diabetic. Drivers (26.9%) with the greater BMI had a short sleep length. The independent factors associated with obesity were sleep duration <8 h/day (OR = 1.24), age >40 years (OR = 1.20), glucose levels >200 (OR = 2.02), cholesterol levels >240 (OR = 1.57), snoring (OR = 1.74), and hypertension (OR = 2.14). Smoking was not associated with obesity (OR = 0.69), and diabetes was considered a control variable. In conclusion, this study supports the hypothesis that short sleep duration as well as age >40 years are independently associated with obesity. This particular combination (short-sleep duration and obesity) is independently associated with several healthcare problems, including high levels of cholesterol, glucose, snoring, and hypertension. However, due to the cross-sectional nature of this study, no cause-effect relationship can be drawn from these results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep*