Lack of Sleep Linked to Obesity in Teens and Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Mar 07, 2014 10:14 AM EST | By Staff Writer

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Is your teen obese? While diet can play an active role in an adolescent's health, sleep may also impact how much weight a teen gains. A new study reveals that lack of sleep could be linked with obesity in teens--and an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

In order to better examine the link between obesity and sleep, the researchers examined 37 obese adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17. The scientists measured metabolic syndrome characteristics, which included fasting cholesterol and blood sugar, waist circumference, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. This allowed the researchers to create a continuous cardiometabolic risk score. The teens were fitted with a physical activity monitor which they wore for 24 hours a day for seven days.

So what did they find? It turns out that one -third of the teens met the minimum recommendation of being physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Yet most of the participants only slept for seven hours each night, usually waking up at least once. That's a stark contrast to the recommended 8.5 hours per night. After controlling for factors, the scientists found that these low sleep levels remained a significant predictor of cardiometabolic risk.

"The strong association between sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk score independent of the effects of body composition and physical activity suggest a potential influence of sleep duration on cardiometabolic health in obese adolescents," said Heidi IglayReger, one of the researchers, in a news release.

The findings reveal how important it is to live an active and, at the same time, restful lifestyle. Getting enough sleep is important for metabolism and your weight. By making sure your teen gets enough sleep, you could make sure that they may be at a lower risk for obesity now and into the future.

The findings are published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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