Not enough sleep linked to unhealthy diet in teens

September 7, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Not enough sleep linked to unhealthy diet in teens
According to new study findings, teenagers who sleep less than eight hours a night on weeknights eat more fatty foods and snacks than those who get more than eight hours of sleep a night.

To investigate, researchers studied 240 teenagers aged 16 to 19 taking part in an ongoing sleep study.

A wristband device monitored their sleep at home and food intake was measured with interviews done by trained staff.

They found that teenagers who slept less than eight hours on weeknights consumed 2.2 percent more calories from fats and 3.0 percent fewer calories from carbohydrates than teenagers who slept eight hours or more.

Researchers note that the relative increase in fat consumption among shorter sleepers by 2.2 percent per day chronically may contribute to cumulative increases in energy consumption that would be expected to increase risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers also found that each added hour of sleep lowered the odds of eating a high amount of calories from snacks by an average of 21 percent.
Curiously, when they looked by gender, they found the results were statistically significant in girls, but not boys.

Prior studies have shown that too little sleep can lead to weight gain, but these new findings show where the extra calories come from.

Only 34 percent of the teenagers in the study slept for an average of eight hours or more. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep to feel alert and rested.  These latest findings were published in the journal Sleep.

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