Rest-Activity Rhythm Is Associated With Obesity Phenotypes: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2022 Jun 28;13:907360. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2022.907360. eCollection 2022.


Background: The prevalence of obesity continues to increase in spite of substantial efforts towards its prevention, posing a major threat to health globally. Circadian disruption has been associated with a wide range of preclinical and clinical disorders, including obesity. However, whether rest-activity rhythm (RAR), an expression of the endogenous circadian rhythm, is associated with excess adiposity is poorly understood. Here we aimed to assess the association of RAR with general and abdominal obesity.

Methods: Non-institutionalized adults aged ≥20 years participating in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2014 who wore accelerometers for at least four 24-hour periods were included (N=7,838). Amplitude, mesor, acrophase and pseudo-F statistic of RAR were estimated using extended cosinor model, and interdaily stability (IS) and intradaily variability (IV) were computed by nonparametric methods. We tested the association between rest-activity rhythm and general obesity defined by body mass index and abdominal obesity by waist circumference. Waist-to-height ratio, sagittal abdominal diameter, and total and trunk fat percentages measured by imaging methods were also analyzed.

Results: In multivariable analysis, low amplitude (magnitude of the rhythm), mesor (rhythm-corrected average activity level), pseudo-F statistic (robustness of the rhythm), IS (day-to-day rhythm stability), or high IV (rhythm fragmentation) were independently associated with higher likelihood of general or abdominal obesity (all Ps<.05). Consistently, RAR metrics were similarly associated with all adiposity measures (all Ps<.01). Delayed phase of RAR (later acrophase) was only significantly related to general and abdominal obesity in women.

Conclusions: Aberrant RAR is independently associated with anthropometric and imaging measures of general and abdominal obesity. Longitudinal studies assessing whether RAR metrics can predict weight gain and incident obesity are warranted.

Keywords: accelerometry; body fat; circadian rhythm; obesity; rest-activity rhythm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy* / methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity, Abdominal* / epidemiology
  • Phenotype