Teenage sleeplessness 'can lead to obesity'
Article date: 10 September 2014
Teenagers who get less than six hours of sleep per night are at an increased risk of becoming obese in later life, according to a new study.
Researchers in the US have revealed that youngsters are 20 per cent more likely to struggle with their weight at the age of 21 if they experience this level of sleeplessness, compared with those who slumber for eight hours or more on a daily basis.
The findings, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, provide the strongest evidence to date that a lack of rest is linked to an elevated level of body mass index (BMI). The investigation is the first of its kind to go into detail regarding the relationship between these two variables over a period of time.
More than 10,000 individuals aged 16 and 21 were involved in the study, with information being gathered on their height, weight and sleep during home visits between 1995 and 2001.
Assistant professor Shakira Suglia, who was involved in the research at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said: "Lack of sleep in your teenage years can stack the deck against you for obesity later in life."
"Once you're an obese adult, it is much harder to lose weight and keep it off. And the longer you are obese, the greater your risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer," she added.
Ms Suglia noted it was important for parents to ensure their teenage sons and daughters get at least eight hours of sleep per night, emphasising that doing so will help them to grow into healthy adults.
One of the reasons experts gave for the link between obesity and poor sleep is that fatigue is known to affect a person's eating habits - altering their appetites and stimulating cravings for certain foods.
Similarly, those who are tired are more likely to order unhealthy take-away or ready meals rather than prepare a fresh dish themselves.