Lack of sleep in teens dramatically increases the risk for obesity

Harold Mandel's picture
Teen sleep and obesity

A lack of sleep among teens has been found to be associated with a significant increased risk for obesity. The consequences of not getting enough sleep can therefore be a lot more serious than simply falling asleep in class.

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Optimizing sleep duration may help prevent excess weight gain in teens.

Researchers examined the association which exists between short sleep duration and obesity in teens reported The Journal of Pediatrics. It was observed that there was an association between short sleep duration and obesity in teens. The researchers concluded that optimizing sleep duration during adolescence may serve as an effective intervention to help prevent excess weight gain in teens.

Nine to ten hours of sleep per night is recommended for teens

According to this study the risk of being obese by 21 years old was 20 percent higher in 16 year olds who got less than six hours of sleep a night in comparison with their peers who slept more than eight hours a night reports Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Nine to ten hours of sleep per night is recommended for teens by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lack of physical activity and time watching television contributes to obesity

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About one-fifth of the 16 year olds reported they got less than six hours of sleep a night. This group was significantly more likely to be obese by age 21 in comparison to their peers who slept more than eight hours a night. Lack of physical activity and time which was spent watching television were also found to contribute to obesity. However, these factors did not account for the relationship which was seen between sleeplessness and obesity.

Lack of sleep in your teen years can create problems in dealing with obesity later in life

Shakira F. Suglia, ScD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, says that a lack of sleep in your teen years can create serious problems in dealing with obesity later in life. It's a great deal harder to lose weight and keep it off once you are an adult. Also, the longer you are obese the greater your risk is for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Adequate sleep helps teens grow into healthy adults

Suglia suggests that the message which parents should be getting from this study is that they should try to make certain their teens get more than eight hours of sleep a night. Getting a good night's sleep goes a lot further than helping teens to stay alert in school. An optimal amount of sleep helps teens grow into healthy adults.

What and how people eat is affected by daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Appetite is altered and cravings are stimulated by lack of sleep. Also, sleep deprived people often feel it is easier to order calorie dense fast food than to prepare a nutritious meal due to their low energy levels.

The bottom line is it is extremely important to work with teens to help them sleep well. Aside from eating nutritious low calorie, low sugar, and low fat food and getting adequate daily exercise teens should also sleep well to avoid obesity and to be alert and healthy.

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