All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Susan L Davies

Advisory Committee Members

Monica L Baskin

Retta Evans

Terri Lewis

Dorothy Pekmezi

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Public Health


Prevalence of obesity continues to be high in the United States with about one-third adults being overweight or obese. Among adolescents the rates of overweight/obesity have increased by three times in the past two decades. Moreover, the rates of obesity are disproportionately high among the minority population. Recently, sleep duration has emerged as an independent risk factor for obesity. Several cross-sectional and longitudinal studies worldwide have shown an inverse relationship between sleep duration and obesity. However, some studies do not support this association. Majority of the studies in the United States have been conducted on predominantly White populations. African Americans are known to have short sleep; however, it is not known if the relationship between sleep and obesity differs by race/ethnicity. The current research explored the gender and racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between sleep duration and obesity among early adolescents. Data were from wave 1 and wave 2 of Healthy Passages study, a longitudinal cohort of 5th graders with a racially ethnic diverse sample. The sample population for analysis was 3,583. Survey logistic was used to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationship between sleep duration and overweight/obesity after controlling for covariates. In cross-sectional analysis, less than 9 hours of average sleep significantly increased the odds of overweight/obesity for White females (OR = 6.484, 95% CI = 1.859-22.611) and Hispanic males (OR = 2.941, 95% CI=1.728-5.008) compared to more than 10 hours of sleep. In longitudinal analysis, the relationship between sleep duration and overweight/obesity was significant only for African American females (OR = 4.115, 95% CI = 2.003-8.454). No significant associations were found between baseline sleep duration and wave 2 obesity for males. The reason for gender and racial/ethnic differences in the study findings is unclear; however, several possibilities have been discussed. The current research and numerous past studies indicate an inverse association between sleep duration and obesity. Future research is needed to examine this relationship in racially diverse samples. Also, studies are required to determine if sleep extension can help to reduce adiposity. A causal association between sleep duration and obesity if proved can have important public health implications.

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