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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Association between sleep duration and obesity is age- and gender-dependent in Chinese urban children aged 6–18 years: a cross-sectional study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Muqing Cao, Yanna Zhu, Baoting He, Wenhan Yang, Yajun Chen, Jun Ma, Jin Jing
Wichtige Hinweise
Dr. Yanna Zhu is the co-first author of this study.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Authors’ contributions

MC, YZ and JJ conceptualized and designed the study. MC, BH, WY and YC analyzed and interpreted the data. MC, YZ, JM and JJ had important intellectual input in drafting and revising the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

Not applicable.



Information on the relationship between sleep duration and obesity among children in urban Guangzhou, China is limited. This study aims to examine the relationship between sleep duration and obesity in children aged 6–18 years.


The sample consisted of 11,830 children aged 6–18 years. The children were randomly selected from 13 schools in three urban districts of Guangzhou. The study was conducted from September to November 2013. The height and weight of the children were measured. Adiposity status was estimated using body mass index and according to the cut point in China criteria. In the structured questionnaire, children reported daily sleep hours (less than 7 h, 7–9 h and more than 9 h), weekly food intake amount (including vegetables, fruit, sugar beverages and meat), physical activity and sedentary time. A caretaker would answer the questionnaire on behalf of a child aged below nine.


A total of 8,760 children (49.0 % boys) completed the study. The prevalence of obesity was 8.4 % (9.8 % in boys and 5.7 % in girls). Adjusted for age, diet and physical activity/sedentary behaviour, the odds ratio (OR) for obesity comparing sleeping <7 h (short sleep duration, SSD) with ≥9 h (long sleep duration, LSD) was 0.70 (95 % CI: 0.69–0.72) among boys and 1.73 (95 % CI: 1.71–1.74) among girls. Stratified by age, OR for boys aged 6–12 years comparing SSD with LSD was 0.60 (95 % CI: 0.55–0.66); by contrast, OR was 1.33 (95 % CI: 1.30–1.37) for boys aged 13–18 years.


Short sleep duration is associated with increased chances of obesity among girls and 13- to 18-year-old boys, but the chances of obesity are decreased among 6- to 12-year-old boys. Age and gender should be regarded as specific characteristics for the effects of short sleep on obesity.
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