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Poor sleep may contribute to excess weight gain
04.17.2012Failing to get a good night's sleep may be a major risk factor for excessive weight gain and obesity, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Human Biology. Individuals who have difficulty sleeping may benefit from healthcare and wellness programs that address these issues.
The findings expand current knowledge of factors that influence weight gain. Typically, medical professionals counsel overweight patients on their diet and exercise habits. The new results suggest that doctors may want to add questions about sleep to these patients' physical exams.
For the study, a team of researchers from the University of Chicago examined results of previous investigations that dealt with the connection between sleep and weight. The results showed that individuals who slept less than six hours per night were much more likely to be obese than people who slept more normal hours.
Kristen Knutson, who led the investigation, said that many people may be at risk, as about 18 percent of adults report sleeping less than six hours each night. However, many of the factors that lead to sleeping difficulty can be addressed through healthcare and wellness programs and other types of counseling.
"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," Knutson said.
She added that it will be important to identify at-risk individuals, as obesity is a recognized risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and several other serious chronic conditions. Simply helping people to get a better night's sleep may make a major difference in rates of these costly chronic diseases.
Categories: Health and Wellness
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