Research Study Abstract

Short sleep duration is associated with increased obesity markers in European adolescents: effect of physical activity and dietary habits. The HELENA study

  • Published on July 26, 2011

Background Adequate sleep is a critical factor for adolescent’s health and health-related behaviors

Objective (a) to describe sleep duration in European adolescents from nine countries, (b) to assess the association of short sleep duration with excess adiposity and (c) to elucidate if physical activity (PA), sedentary behaviors and/or inadequate food habits underlie this association.

Design A sample of 3311 adolescents (1748 girls) aged 12.5–17.49 years from 10 European cities in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden was assessed in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Study between 2006 and 2008. We measured anthropometric data, sleep duration, PA (accelerometers and questionnaire), television watching and food habits (Food Frequency Questionnaire).

Results Average duration of daily sleep was 8 h. Shorter sleepers showed higher values of BMI, body fat, waist and hip circumferences and fat mass index (Po0.05), particularly in females. Adolescents who slept o8 h per day were more sedentary, as assessed by accelerometry, and spent more time watching TV (Po0.05). The proportion of adolescents who eat adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables and fish was lower in shorter sleepers than in adolescents who slept X8 h per day, and so was the probability of having adequate food habits (Po0.05). Correlation analysis indicated that short sleep is associated with higher obesity parameters

Conclusions In European adolescents, short sleep duration is associated with higher adiposity markers, particularly in female adolescents. This association seems to be related to both sides of the energy balance equation due to a combination of increased food intake and more sedentary habits.


  • M Garaulet 1
  • FB Ortega 2, 3
  • JR Ruiz 2, 4
  • JP Rey-Lopez 5
  • L Beghin 6
  • Y Manios 7
  • M Cuenca-Garcia 3
  • M Plada 8
  • K Diethelm 9
  • A Kafatos 8
  • D Molnar 10
  • J Al-Tahan 11
  • LA Moreno 4


  • 1

    Department of Physiology, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain

  • 2

    Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition at NOVUM, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden

  • 3

    Department of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain

  • 4

    Department of Physical Education and Sport, School of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain

  • 5

    GENUD ‘Growth: Exercise, Nutrition and Development’ Research Group, School of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

  • 6

    Centre d’Investigation Clinique CH&U Inserm, Bd Pr Leclercq, Hoˆpital Cardiologique, Lille Cedex, France

  • 7

    Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

  • 8

    University of Crete, School of Medicine, Crete, Greece

  • 9

    Research Institute of Child Nutrition (FKE), Dortmund, Germany

  • 10

    Department of Pediatrics, University of Pe´cs, Pe´cs, Hungary

  • 11

    Institut fu¨r Erna¨hrungs- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften – Erna¨hrungphysiologie Endenicher Alle 11-13, Bonn, Germany


International Journal of Obesity


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