Short sleep times predict obesity in internal medicine clinic patients

J Clin Sleep Med. 2007 Dec 15;3(7):681-8.


Study objectives: Epidemiological studies have demonstrated an association between short sleep times and obesity as defined by body mass index (BMI). We wanted to determine whether this association occurs in patients with chronic medical diagnoses since the number of confounding factors is likely higher in patients than the general population.

Methods: Two hundred patients attending internal medicine clinics completed a survey regarding sleep habits, lifestyle characteristics, and medical diagnoses. An independent surveyor collected the information on the questionnaires and reviewed the medical records. Height and weight were measured by clinic personnel. Data were analyzed with multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Subjects with short sleep times (< 7 hours) had an increased likelihood of obesity as defined by a BMI > or = 30 kg/m2 when compared to the reference group of (8, 9] hours (odds ratio 2.93; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-8.09). There was a U-shaped relationship between obesity and sleep time in women but not in men. Young age (18 to 49 years), not smoking, drinking alcohol, hypertension, diabetes, and sleep apnea were also associated with obesity in the overall model.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates an association between short sleep times and obesity in undifferentiated patients attending an internal medicine clinic using models adjusting for age, lifestyle characteristics, and some medical diagnoses. The U-shaped relationship in women suggests that sleep patterns may have gender specific associations. These observations provide the background for therapeutic trials in weight loss in patients with established medical problems.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology*
  • Texas