High-quality and anti-inflammatory diets and a healthy lifestyle are associated with lower sleep apnea risk

Yohannes Adama Melaku, Amy C. Reynolds, Sarah Appleton, Alexander Sweetman, Zumin Shi, Andrew Vakulin, Peter Catcheside, Danny J. Eckert, Robert Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Study Objectives: Most studies on diet and sleep apnea focus on calorie restriction. Here we investigate potential associations between dietary quality (Healthy Eating Index [HEI], Dietary Inflammatory Index [DII]) and overall healthy lifestyle with sleep apnea risk. Methods: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data (waves 2005-2008 and 2015-2018; n = 14,210) were used to determine HEI, DII, and their quintiles, with the fifth quintile indicating highest adherence to each dietary construct. A healthy lifestyle score was determined using diet, smoking, alcohol intake, and physical activity level. The STOP-BANG questionnaire was used to define sleep apnea risk. Generalized linear regression models with binomial family and logit link were used to investigate potential associations. The models were adjusted for socioeconomic status, lifestyle factors, and chronic conditions. Results: The prevalence of high sleep apnea risk was 25.1%. Higher DII was positively associated with sleep apnea (odds ratioQuintile 5 vs Quintile 1 = 1.55; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-1.94; P for trend < .001), whereas higher HEI was associated with reduced sleep apnea risk (odds ratioQuintile 5 vs Quintile 1 = 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.59-0.88; P for trend = .007). Higher healthy lifestyle score was also associated with decreased odds of sleep apnea (P for trend < .001). There was a significant interaction between healthy lifestyle and sex with sleep apnea risk (P for interaction = .049) whereby females with higher healthy lifestyle scores had a lower risk of sleep apnea compared to males. Conclusions: Higher-quality and anti-inflammatory diets and a healthier overall lifestyle are associated with lower sleep apnea risk. These findings underline the importance of strategies to improve overall diet quality and promote healthy behavior, not just calorie restriction, to reduce sleep apnea risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1667-1679
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Dietary Inflammatory Index
  • adiposity
  • diet
  • dietary pattern
  • dietary quality
  • inflammation
  • lifestyle
  • sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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