Reduced sleep as an obesity risk factor

Obes Rev. 2009 Nov:10 Suppl 2:61-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2009.00664.x.


Poor sleep has increasingly gained attention as a potential contributor to the recent obesity epidemic. The increased prevalence of obesity in Western nations over the past half-century has been paralleled by a severe reduction in sleep duration. Physiological studies suggest reduced sleep may impact hormonal regulation of appetite. Prospective studies suggest reduced habitual sleep duration as assessed by self-report is an independent risk factor for an increased rate of weight gain and incident obesity. Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that the association between reduced sleep and obesity persists when sleep habits are measured objectively, that the association is as a result of elevations in fat and not muscle mass and that this association is not related to sleep apnoea. Thus, reduced sleep appears to represent a novel, independent risk factor for increased weight gain. Further research is needed to determine whether interventions aimed at increasing sleep may be useful in combating obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Weight Gain / physiology