Sleep-related disturbances and physical inactivity are independently associated with obesity in adults

Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Nov;31(11):1713-21. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803663. Epub 2007 Jun 19.


Objective: To study relationships between obesity, physical inactivity and sleep-related disturbances (obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), sleep duration, sleep disturbances concomitant with daytime tiredness) in adults (> or =30 years).

Design: Cross-sectional study with a random population sample.

Participants: A total of 3377 men (mean age 52.3, s.d. 14.8, years) and 4264 women (56.4, s.d. 17.2, years).

Main outcome measures: Dependent variables, measured: Waist circumference (WC) and body mass index (BMI). Independent variables, from a detailed interview/questionnaire: probable OSA, other sleep-related disturbances, sleep duration, type and frequency of leisure physical activity. Age, mental health, smoking and education were included in analyses as potential confounders.

Results: In men, OSA and physical inactivity increased likelihood for abdominal obesity (WC > or =102 cm). Physical inactivity also increased, but long (> or =9 h/day) sleep decreased likelihood for abdominal overweight (WC: 94-101 cm) in men. In women, abdominal obesity (WC > or =88 cm) was associated positively with OSA, moderate sleep-related disturbances, and physical inactivity. Education modulated the influence of age on abdominal obesity in both genders. Using BMI as the dependent variable did not change the general information obtained by the model. In addition, abdominal obesity was found to be an independent risk factor also in multivariable models predicting categories of a combined sleep duration and sleep disturbances.

Conclusions: Sleep duration and sleep-related disturbances are associated with obesity, even after controlling for OSA and physical inactivity. The results support the hypothesis of vicious circle between sleep and obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyssomnias / complications*
  • Dyssomnias / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Smoking