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Sleep. 2005 Oct;28(10):1289-96.

Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for obesity: analyses of the NHANES I.

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  • 1Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.



Sleep deprivation has been hypothesized to contribute toward obesity by decreasing leptin, increasing ghrelin, and compromising insulin sensitivity. This study examines cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a large United States sample to determine whether sleep duration is associated with obesity and weight gain.


Longitudinal analyses of the 1982-1984, 1987, and 1992 NHANES I Followup Studies and cross-sectional analysis of the 1982-1984 study.


Probability sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States.


Sample sizes of 9,588 for the cross-sectional analyses, 8,073 for the 1987, and 6,981 for the 1992 longitudinal analyses.


Measured weight in 1982-1984 and self-reported weights in 1987 and 1992. Subjects between the ages of 32 and 49 years with self-reported sleep durations at baseline less than 7 hours had higher average body mass indexes and were more likely to be obese than subjects with sleep durations of 7 hours. Sleep durations over 7 hours were not consistently associated with either an increased or decreased likelihood of obesity in the cross-sectional and longitudinal results. Each additional hour of sleep at baseline was negatively associated with change in body mass index over the follow-up period, but this association was small and statistically insignificant.


These findings support the hypothesis that sleep duration is associated with obesity in a large longitudinally monitored United States sample. These observations support earlier experimental sleep studies and provide a basis for future studies on weight control interventions that increase the quantity and quality of sleep.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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