The Effect of Sleep Duration on Body Weight in Adolescents: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

38 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2014

See all articles by Young Kyung Do

Young Kyung Do

Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University Medical Research Center

Date Written: February 10, 2014

Abstract

Despite a large number of observational studies consistently reporting the association between shorter sleep duration and higher body weight, causality has yet to be established at a population level. This study aims to estimate the population-level causal effect of sleep duration on adolescent body weight, using an instrumental variable (IV) approach that exploits a unique natural experiment in the context of South Korea’s highly competitive secondary education. In March 2011, amid growing concerns over the negative consequences of late-night tuition at private tutoring institutes (hagwon), authorities in 3 of the 16 administrative regions in South Korea decreed adjusting the closing hours of hagwon to 10 p.m. This policy change caused a substantial and plausibly exogenous variation in the sleep duration of the “marginal student,” whose sleep duration is most likely to be affected by the policy. The IV estimation results on a sample of general high school 10th- and 11th-graders in the 2009−2012 Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey show that a 1-hour increase in sleep duration led to a 0.56 kg/m2 reduction in body mass index, or a 4.3 percentage-point decrease in overweight/obesity. Short sleep duration among adolescents may be an important contributor to increased body weight at the population level.

Keywords: obesity; body weight; sleep; adolescent health; education; government policy; regulation; natural experiment; instrumental variable; difference-in-differences; Korea

JEL Classification: I12; I18; I28

Suggested Citation

Do, Young Kyung, The Effect of Sleep Duration on Body Weight in Adolescents: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (February 10, 2014). Stanford Asia Health Policy Program Working Paper No. 38. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2393704 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2393704

Young Kyung Do (Contact Author)

Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University Medical Research Center ( email )

103 Daehak-ro Jongno-gu
Seoul, 110-799
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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