Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, new evidence shows

April 17, 2012

Can lack of sleep make you fat? A new paper which reviews the evidence from sleep restriction studies reveals that inadequate sleep is linked to obesity. The research, published in a special issue of the The American Journal of Human Biology, explores how lack of sleep can impact appetite regulation, impair glucose metabolism and increase blood pressure.

"Obesity develops when energy intake is greater than expenditure. Diet and physical activity play an important part in this, but an additional factor may be inadequate sleep," said Dr Kristen Knutson, from the University of Chicago. "A review of the evidence shows how short or poor quality sleep is linked to increased risk of obesity by de-regulating appetite, leading to increased ."

Dr Knutson accumulated evidence from experimental and observational studies of sleep. revealed cross-sectional associations between getting fewer than six hours sleep and increased (BMI) or obesity.

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

"In the United States 18% of adults are estimated to get less than 6 hours of sleep, which equates to 53 million short sleepers who may be at risk of associated obesity," said Knutson. "Poor sleeping patterns are not random and it is important to consider the social, cultural and environmental factors which can cause inadequate sleep so at-risk groups can be identified."

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 may result in greater associated obesity risks.

The majority of the studies Dr Knutson examined came from Western countries, which highlights the need for more research to understand sleep's role in disease risk. However other research papers in the special issue focus on obesity in the United Arab Emirates, Samoa, and Brazil.

"These findings show that sleeping poorly can increase a person's risk of developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease," concluded Knutson. "Future research should determine whether efforts to improve sleep can also help prevent the development of these diseases or improve the lives of patients with these conditions."

Explore further: Insomnia linked to high insulin resistance in diabetics

More information: Kristen L. Knutson, “Does inadequate sleep play a role in vulnerability to obesity?” American Journal of Human Biology, January 2012, DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22219

Related Stories

Insomnia linked to high insulin resistance in diabetics

May 2, 2011
In the largest study of it kind to establish a link between sleep and diabetes, researchers found that people with diabetes who sleep poorly have higher insulin resistance, and a harder time controlling the disease.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.