Research indicates that sleep duration and quality are inter-related factors that contribute to obesity, but few studies have focused on sleep chronotype, representing an individual’s circadian proclivity, nor assessed these factors in racially diverse middle-aged samples.
We examined the associations between chronotype and obesity among black and white men and women participating in the Bogalusa Heart Study (BHS).Body mass index (BMI) and sleep data were available for 1,197 middle-aged men and women (mean age 48.2 ± 5.3 years) who participated in the BHS 2013-2016. Based on the reduced Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire’s cutoff values for chronotypes, we combined ‘definitely morning’ and ‘moderately morning’ types into ‘morning’ type, ‘definitely evening’ and ‘moderately evening’ types into ‘evening’ type and kept those who were “neither” type in a separate group. We used ‘morning’ type as the referent group. Obesity was defined as a BMI ≥ 30. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine associations adjusting for sex, age, education, smoking, alcohol use and drug use, depression, shift work, physical activity and sleep duration.Evening chronotype, reported by 11.1% of participants, was associated with obesity after multi-variable adjustment, including shift work, physical activity and sleep duration (OR 1.67, 95% CI: 1.08-2.56).
However, once stratified by race (black/white), this association was found only among white participants (OR = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.12-3.25) after full adjustment.In our biracial, community-based population, evening chronotype was independently associated with obesity, specifically among white participants. Further research is needed to identify behavioral, endocrine, nutritional and genetic pathways which underlie these associations.