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Age and Sex Differences in the Association of Sleep Duration and Overweight/Obesity among Chinese Participants Age above 45 Years: A Cohort Study



We aimed to evaluate the association between sleep duration and obesity and estimate the attributable risk of sleep in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study surveys (CHARLS).


A total of 9061 adults aged 45 years above from CHARLS (2011–2015) were included. The main outcome of this study was incident overweight/obesity specific to general and abdominal obesity. Overweight/obesity was defined as BMI ≥ 23.0 (kg/m2) and BMI≥27.5 (kg/m2), respectively. Abdominal obesity was defined as waist circumference ≥90 cm for men and ≥80 cm for women. Self-reported sleep durations were obtained using a structured questionnaire. We assessed hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) as well as the population attributable fraction (PAF) for associations between sleep duration and obesity.


986 and 606 participants were identified as overweight and general obesity respectively, 1253 experienced abdominal obesity events. In multivariable-adjusted models, participants with daytime sleep of 0–30 minutes and more than 30 minutes associated with 30% (HR: 0.70, 95% CI: 0.56–0.87) and 35% (HR: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.55–0.78) decreased incident overweight risk respectively compared to those having no daytime sleep, this association also found among females and middle-aged, not males or elderly. Similarly, 0–30 minutes (HR: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.48–0.96) and more than 30 minutes of daytime sleep (HR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.59–0.91) were associated with a reduced risk of abdominal obesity, similar results also found among females and middle-aged. Compared with 7–9 hours of nocturnal sleep, people who slept 5–7 hours had a reduced risk of overweight (HR: 0.59, 95% CI=0.47–0.74), but not found in subgroups. The hazard role of long nocturnal sleep for abdominal obesity was only found among elderly (HR: 2.33, 95% CI=1.35–4.04) and males (HR: 2.24, 95% CI=1.17–4.29). Compared with moderate total sleepers (7–9hours/day), participants with short total sleep duration exhibited an elevated risk of overweight (HR: 1.13, 95% CI=1.00–1.28), this also found among middle-aged. The PAF for inadequate total sleep duration (<7 hours/day) was 10.77% for overweight individuals.


Insufficient sleep duration was associated with an elevated risk of overweight only detected among middle-aged not elderly and other subgroups specific by age. The risks for abdominal obesity were increased for males and middle-aged with long nocturnal sleep. Daytime sleep may significantly reduce the risk of overweight and abdominal obesity in female and middle-aged individuals. The link between sleep duration and obesity requires further study.

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The authors thank the study participants for their contributions to the study, and give many thanks to members of the CHARLS.

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Correspondence to Xiangyu Tang.

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Disclosure: All other authors declare no competing interests. This research did not receive any funding from agencies.

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Yao, F., Ma, J., Qin, P. et al. Age and Sex Differences in the Association of Sleep Duration and Overweight/Obesity among Chinese Participants Age above 45 Years: A Cohort Study. J Nutr Health Aging 26, 714–722 (2022).

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Key words

  • Overweight/obesity
  • sleep duration
  • daytime sleep
  • middle-aged and elderly