Lack of sleep linked to obesity risk for adolescent boys

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Findings presented yesterday at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver suggest that, for some teens, getting too little sleep may increase the risk for obesity. What’s more, the research implies that this correlation is more prevalent in boys than girls: compared to peers who got more rest, teen boys who got too little sleep were particularly susceptible to an increased risk for overweight and obesity, while there was little association between too little sleep and higher body mass index (BMI) among girls. As study author Leslie Lytle, from the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute, told NPR:

“Maybe girls are better equipped to deal with environmental stress. They just biologically respond differently.”

The study included 723 adolescents and analyzed sleep habits, BMI, depression risk, socioeconomic background, average daily activity and other factors. The researchers found that, adolescents — boys in particular — who got fewer than the recommended 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night tended to be at higher risk for overweight, high BMI and obesity compared with those who got sufficient sleep. This correlation was evident even when adolescents only skimped on sleep by an hour or half hour, NPR points out.

Additionally, the researchers found that, while the link between poor sleep and obesity risk was evident in early adolescence, it was less so during high school, but returned again later in life.