Relationship between sleep duration and body mass index depends on age

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Dec;23(12):2491-8. doi: 10.1002/oby.21247. Epub 2015 Nov 2.


Objective: Sleep duration is associated with obesity and cardiometabolic disease. It is unclear, though, how these relationship differs across age groups.

Methods: Data from 2007 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used, including respondents aged 16+ with complete data (N = 5,607). Sleep duration and age were evaluated by self-report, and body mass index (BMI) was assessed objectively. Sleep duration was evaluated continuously and categorically [very short (≤4 h), short (5-6 h), and long (≥9 h) versus average (7-8 h)]. Age was also evaluated continuously and categorically [adolescent (16-17 years), young adult (18-29 years), early middle age (30-49 years), late middle age (50-64 years), and older adult (≥65 years)].

Results: There was a significant interaction with age for both continuous (Pinteraction = 0.014) and categorical (Pinteraction = 0.035) sleep duration. A pseudo-linear relationship was seen among the youngest respondents, with the highest BMI associated with the shortest sleepers and the lowest BMI associated with the longest sleepers. This relationship became U-shaped in middle-age, and less of a relationship was seen among the oldest respondents.

Conclusions: These findings may provide insights for clinical recommendations and could help to guide mechanistic research regarding the sleep-obesity relationship.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Self Report
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult