Sleep Deprivation Among Teens Leads to Poor Food Choices and Obesity

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Sleep Deprivation Among Teens Leads to Poor Food Choices and Obesity

    When my daughter was in high school I used to stop by her room before I retired for the evening to wish her goodnight. I would usually find her stationed in front of her  computer addressing some kind of homework assignment. It would be about eleven o'clock in the evening, and her workload was still unfinished. I would tell her to not stay up too late, and she would always respond that she would have to stay at it until her assignments were complete. I cannot say exactly how much sleep my daughter got each night, but I am certain it was consistently under eight hours. 

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    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get between nine and ten hours sleep per night. When this criteria is not met, problems present.

    The Consequences of Lack of Sleep Among Teenagers

    Some sleep experts have stated that they believe early high-school start times are abusive because of the effect felt by adolescents. Too little sleep has been associated with difficulties in school such as disciplinary problems, sleepiness in the classroom and poor concentration. It was also noted in 2001 that of the 100,000 traffic accidents that are attributed to fatigue each year, half of those accidents have a young driver operating the vehicle.

    In addition, newly released findings published in the Journal of Sleep Research show that acute illnesses such as cold, flu, and gastroenteritis were more common among adolescents who got less sleep.

    The study found that illnesses declined among both male and female students who had longer sleep. It was also discovered that school absences due to illness also improved when students had longer periods of sleep.


    Lack of Sleep As it Relates to Food Choices and Obesity

    Researchers from Columbia University and the University of North Carolina have found an association between inadequate sleep among teens and a higher risk for future obesity.   


    The study discovered that adolescents age 16 years old who got less than six hours sleep per night have a 20% higher risk for obesity by age 21 compared to 16 year olds who get more than eight hours of sleep per night. Information on 10,000 children ages 16 and 21 was examined and it was found one-fifth of the sixteen year olds got less than 6 hours sleep per night. These participants also had an increased risk of obesity at age 21.     


    Although reasons for this association were not examined, a study led by Laureen Hale, an Associate Professor of Preventive at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, showed that teenagers who got adequate sleep made more healthy food choices than teenagers who were sleep-deprived. 

    Eighteen percent of the respondents reported sleeping fewer than seven hours per night. These respondents were also more likely to eat fast food two or more times per week and less likely to eat more healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.   


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Published On: October 03, 2014