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Want teens to eat healthy? Make sure they get a good night’s sleep

Sleep-deprived teenagers tend to make poor nutritional choices compared to their well-rested friends, according to findings presented at the recent annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

In the study, researchers explored the connection between sleep duration and food choices using a national representative sample of more than 13,200 teenagers from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. A release from Stony Brook University School of Medicine offers more details about the results and their significance:

The authors found that those teens who reported sleeping fewer than seven hours per night — 18 percent of respondents — were more likely to consume fast food two or more times per week and less likely to eat healthful food such as fruits and vegetables. The results took into account factors such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical activity and family structure, and found that short sleep duration had an independent effect on both healthy and unhealthy food choices.

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“We are interested in the association between sleep duration and food choices in teenagers because adolescence is a critical developmental period between childhood and adulthood,” said the first author of the study, Allison Kruger, MPH, a community health worker at Stony Brook University Hospital. “Teenagers have a fair amount of control over their food and sleep, and the habits they form in adolescence can strongly impact their habits as adults.”

The findings add to the growing body of research showing that not getting enough sleep can increase an individual's risk of obesity.

Previously: More evidence linking sleep deprivation and obesity, 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
Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

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