A recent study of over 5000 people across five countries in Europe showed that sleep restriction is a risk factor for weight gain and obesity and that work-related sitting was a significant mediator in the sleep-obesity association. In results of the association between sleep duration and obesity, a one hour increase in total sleeping time was associated with a 14% decreased odds of obesity.
Data on self-reported sleep duration, energy balance-related behaviour, height, weight and other covariates were collected from participants from 60 urban neighbourhoods in Belgium, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as part of the SPOTLIGHT study.
When classified by age, sleep duration was negatively associated with obesity in the youngest (18-40 years) and middle (41-65 years) age groups. No significant associations were found in the oldest group (66–109 years).
“These findings are consistent with previous observational and experimental studies showing a link between sleep duration and obesity. We found work-related sedentary behaviour to be a significant mediator in the association between sleep and obesity for the total, youngest and oldest age group,” the researchers stated.
Despite limitations of this study, such as self-reported sleep duration and caloric intake and simplification of mediators, the authors claim the extensive nature of the survey contributes to the usefulness of the results.
“The fact that our study was conducted across five different European countries, and the fact that we did not find moderation by country, strengthens the existing evidence for the sleep – obesity association in adults. We used a relatively large sample of male and female adults compared to other studies.”
“The data confirm a negative association between sleep duration and the odds of obesity and work-related sedentary behaviour explained a small proportion of this association,” the researchers concluded.