Associations between poor sleep quality and psychosocial stress with obesity in reproductive-age women of lower socioeconomic status

Womens Health Issues. 2013 Sep-Oct;23(5):e295-300. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Aug 9.


Background: Prior studies have not examined the role of psychosocial stress in the relationship between poor sleep quality and obesity among women of lower socioeconomic status (SES). We tested the following hypotheses in a sample of reproductive-age women of lower SES: 1) Poor sleep quality is related to increased risk of obesity, and 2) psychosocial stress confounds this association between poor sleep quality and obesity.

Methods: A total of 927 women age 16 to 40 years attending public health clinics in Southeastern Texas provided information on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and sociodemographic and health characteristics, including the Perceived Stress Scale. Height, weight, and waist circumference (WC) were measured in clinic. A series of models examined the associations between sleep disturbance, perceived stress, and weight outcomes, accounting for potential confounding factors.

Results: Nearly 30% of women were overweight, and 35% were obese. Half of women had a WC of greater than 35 inches. Most women had poor sleep quality and high levels of stress. Sleep quality and perceived stress were not related to body mass index category or WC in models that adjusted for age and race/ethnicity. Adjusting for potential confounding factors did not alter results. Perceived stress did not modify the association between sleep quality and weight outcomes.

Conclusions: Poor sleep quality and psychosocial stress were not related to weight in reproductive-aged women of lower SES. However, poor sleep quality, high stress, overweight, and obesity were common in this group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / ethnology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult