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Stanford Medicine

Obesity, Research, Sleep

More evidence linking sleep deprivation and obesity

An estimated 15 percent of adults and seven percent of teens get fewer than six hours of sleep on weeknights. Besides suffering from daytime sleepiness and fatigue, these individuals may also have an increased risk of obesity, according to findings recently published in the American Journal of Human Biology.

Past research, including a 2004 Stanford study, has suggested that sleep duration is an important regulator of body weight and metabolism. The new study took a closer look at accumulated evidence from experimental and observational studies of sleep. According to a journal release, the review showed:

…cross-sectional associations between getting fewer than six hours sleep and increased body mass index (BMI) or obesity.

The studies [also] revealed how signals from the brain, which control appetite regulation, are impacted by experimental sleep restriction. Inadequate sleep impacts secretion of the signal hormones ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which indicates when the body is satiated. This can lead to increased food intake without the compensating energy expenditure.

The evidence suggests the association between inadequate sleep and higher BMI is stronger in children and adolescents. It also shows that sleep deficiency in lower socioeconomic groups may result in greater associated obesity risks.

On a related note, a separate study published last week showed that poor sleep and shift work can impair glucose regulation and metabolism, which could result in obesity or diabetes over time.

Previously: How lack of sleep affects the brain and may increase appetite, weight gain, Study shows link between lack of sleep and obesity in teen boys and Study: Staying up late tied to poor eating habits, weight gain
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