Associations between sleep and obesity indices in older adults: results from the HELIAD study



Short sleep duration and low sleep quality are negatively associated with obesity in young adults, but in older people the results are inconsistent.


The aim of the present study was to examine the associations between sleep duration and quality with both body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) and to investigate sex- and age-specific associations in a population-representative cohort of older adults.


1781 participants ≥ 65 years old from the HELIAD study were included. Sleep duration and quality were based on self-report, whereas BMΙ and WC were evaluated clinically.


Sleep duration was inversely related to WC, only in women, even after adjustment for age, sex, years of education, total energy intake and level of physical activity. Furthermore, sleep quality was negatively related to both BMI and WC in women. In men, however, no significant relationships were observed between these variables. Associations between sleep and weight did not differ between those aged < 73 and ≥ 73 years old.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study examining both sleep duration and quality with BMI and WC in older adults, performing by-sex analysis. Although additional studies are needed, improvements in sleep habits should be considered in weight management of older individuals.


Our results suggest that poor sleep is associated to adverse weight effects in older women, but not men.

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This study was supported by the grants: IIRG-09-133014 from the Alzheimer’s Association, 189 10276/8/9/2011 from the ESPA-EU program Excellence Grant (ARISTEIA) and the ΔΥ2β/οικ.51657/14.4.2009 of the Ministry for Health and Social Solidarity (Greece). C. A. Anastasiou has received financial support from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (MIS:5001552).

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Correspondence to Mary Yannakoulia.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Mamalaki, E., Tsapanou, A., Anastasiou, C.A. et al. Associations between sleep and obesity indices in older adults: results from the HELIAD study. Aging Clin Exp Res 31, 1645–1650 (2019).

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  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep quality
  • Weight circumference
  • BMI
  • Elderly