Insufficient sleep linked to expanding waistlines

02 August 2017

Adults who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Adults who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight or obese, study results show.

Analysis undertaken by researchers at the University of Leeds has found that people who sleep an average of six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 3cm greater than individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night - and shorter sleepers were heavier too.

"Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep," said senior author Dr. Laura Hardie. "How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults."

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For the study, academics oversaw 1,615 adults who reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake. Participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference and blood pressure recorded.

In light of the results, the researchers are certain that insufficient sleep could contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

"The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980. Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health," explained researcher Greg Potter.

Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants' blood. HDL cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol that helps remove 'bad' fat from the circulation. However, the study did not find any relationship between shortened sleep and a less healthy diet, which surprised researchers as prior reports have suggested that shortened sleep can lead to poor dietary choices.

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The full study has been published in journal PLOS ONE.

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