Going to Bed Late, Waking Up Late Linked to Obesity in Teens

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Australian researchers have found that sleep patterns are very important in regards to weight problems with teenagers.

Many studies have already shown a link between short sleep duration and an increased risk of being overweight or obese; a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Sleep also echoes this correlation. Australian researchers have found that sleep patterns are very important in regards to weight problems with teenagers.

Study co-author Dr. Carol Maher, from the University of South Australia, stated the results of her research “shows that the teenagers that have that pattern of late to bed, late to wake up don’t have as good health outcomes.” Sleep patterns change as children age with teenagers needing less sleep that young children and boys needing less sleep that girls. The findings of Maher and her colleagues contradict opinions that it is common for teens to adjust to school times to fit in with their sleeping patterns along with gaining habits of staying up late and sleeping in.

Researchers monitored 2,200 Australian individuals between the ages of 9 and 16 by comparing their sleeping patterns and measuring their weight and activity levels by age and gender. Maher pointed out that the biggest differences were between kids that went to bed earlier and woke up earlier as opposed to kids going to bed later and waking up later. “That was a little bit surprising because they actually got the same amount of sleep in total,” she added.

The children who were late to bed and late to rise were one and a half times more likely to be overweight, twice as likely to be obese, and nearly twice as likely to be considered physically inactive against their early to sleep/early to rise peers. The later-to-bed subjects were found to also spend nearly an hour more when it came to in screen-based, sedentary activities like playing video games, watching movies, or just flipping through television channels.

“Some kids choose to do physical activity that makes them get up early and go to bed early,” said Maher, adding that kids who were getting up earlier and going to bed earlier were engaging in more physical activity and less screen time. The study also found that later-to-rise and later-to-bed children were more likely to come from poorer households, live in major cities, and have fewer siblings.

Around the Web

Night-owl Teens Not as Lean [Discovery News]

Study: Less Sleep Ups Obesity Risk [CBS News]

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