Short sleep duration and obesity among Australian children

Zumin Shi, Anne W Taylor, Tiffany Gill, Jane Tuckerman, Robert Adams, James Martin

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Background: There is limited information on sleep duration and obesity among Australian children. The objective of the study is to cross-sectionally examine the relationship between sleep duration and obesity in Australian children aged 5 to 15 years. Methods: Data were collected using the South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System between January 2004 and December 2008. Each month a representative random sample of South Australians are selected from the Electronic White Pages with interviews conducted using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Within each household, the person who was last to have a birthday was selected for interview. Parents reported the number of hours their children slept each day. Obesity was defined according to the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) definition based on BMI calculated from reported body weight and height. Results: Overall, parents of 3495 children aged 5-15 years (mean 10.7 years, 50.3% boys) were interviewed. The prevalence of obesity was 7.7% (8.9% in boys, 6.6% in girls). In multivariate analysis after adjusting for sociodemographic variables, intake of fruit and vegetables, physical activity and inactivity, the odds ratio (OR) for obesity comparing sleeping <9 hours with ≥10 hours was 2.23 (95% CI 1.04-4.76) among boys, 1.70(0.78-3.73) among girls, and 1.97(1.15-3.38) in both genders. The association between short sleep (<9 hours) and obesity was stronger in the younger age group. No significant association between short sleep and obesity was found among children aged 13-15. There was also an additive interaction between short sleep and low level of physical activity. Conclusion: Short sleep duration is associated with increased obesity in children especially among younger age groups and boys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number609
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number609
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Physical Activity
  • Obesity
  • Sleep Duration
  • Vegetable Consumption
  • Short Sleep Duration


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