Is the association between social jetlag and BMI mediated by lifestyle? A cross-sectional survey study in the Dutch general population

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OBJECTIVE: Social jetlag is a discordance between the social and biological rhythm and is associated with higher HbA1c, higher BMI, and higher odds of obesity. The pathways that could explain these associations are still debated. This study aims to assess the mediating role of several lifestyle factors in the cross-sectional association between social jetlag and BMI.

METHODS: We used cross-sectional data from 1784 adults from urban areas in the Netherlands, collected in 2019. Social jetlag (difference in midpoint of sleep between week and weekend nights) was categorized as low(<1 h), moderate(1-2h), and high(>2 h). BMI(kg/m 2) was calculated from self-reported height and weight. The association between social jetlag and BMI was assessed using linear regression, adjusted for sex, age, education, and sleep duration and stratified for the effect modifier stress (high vs. low). Mediation analysis was performed for self-reported smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and adherence to a healthy diet.

RESULTS: High social jetlag was associated with higher BMI (0.69 kg/m 2,95%CI 0.05;1.33). This association was stronger in people with high stress (0.93 kg/m 2,95%CI 0.09;1.76). Social jetlag was also associated with higher odds of smoking, lower physical activity, higher alcohol consumption, and lower healthy diet adherence. In people with high stress, these factors mediated 10-15% of the association between social jetlag and BMI.

CONCLUSIONS: Social jetlag is associated with higher BMI and this association is stronger in people with high stress. In people with high stress, healthy diet adherence mediated 12% of this association. Other pathways involved in this association should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107908
Pages (from-to)107908
JournalPreventive medicine
Early online date19 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Adult
  • Alcohol
  • Chronobiology
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Epidemiology
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Physical activity
  • Rhythmicity
  • Sleep

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