Lack of sleep linked to obesity: worldwide study

May 1, 2008 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Lack of sleep linked to obesity: worldwide study

Studies from around the world have shown a consistent increase in risk of obesity amoung children and adults who don't sleep very much.

In this report, published in the May 1 issue of the journal SLEEP, researchers from the United Kingdom completed a systematic review of all published studies investigating the relationship between short sleep duration and obesity risk.  Studies included in the review measured duration of sleep and body mass index (BMI) over time, as well as age and gender. Eleven studies on children and 17 studies on adults met the inclusion criteria.

For children aged two to 20 years old, seven of 11 studies reported a significant association between short sleep duration and obesity. Children who slept the least were nearly twice as likely to become obese when compared to their peers who enjoyed more sleep.

For adults age 15 to 102, all the studies included in this report showed a significant association between short duration of sleep and obesity. Adults who slept less had a 1.5-fold increase in risk of obesity when compared to those who slept more.

According to the author of this report, how much you sleep plays a role in who much you weigh - regardless of age.

Previous smaller studies have suggested that age-related changes to hormones may affect body weight. This is the first study to examine sleep and obesity on an international level.  Future studies will aim to find a cause and effect relationship between sleep duration and obesity.

In 1998, Statistics Canada showed that 15 to 17 percent of Canadians get less than eight hours sleep at night - the average and recommended amount. Currently, about 23 percent of Canadians are obese (BMI greater than 30).


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