The amount of people suffering from obesity has exploded in recent years. According to the textbook, A Wellness Way of Life, “Thirty-four and three fourths percent of American adults are obese. In 1960-62 the percentage was thirteen percent” (A Wellness Way of Life, pg. 264). The obesity problem is not isolated to the United States alone, but has become a worldwide health issue of epidemic proportions. Many factors, such as diet and physical activity, contribute to obesity. However, scientists have recently found a surprising link between obesity and lack of sleep. Multiple studies have been performed to confirm this link and though inconclusive, these studies support the idea that lack of sleep may be a major cause of obesity today.
Researchers have found that sleep deprivation impairs glucose, increases blood pressure, and deregulates appetite. A Wellness Way of Life states,
Insufficient sleep appears to affect hormones that regulate appetite and body weight. Leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered; ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost. These hormone changes combined with more awake time to eat and feeling too tired to exercise all contribute to weight gain. (A Wellness Way of Life, pg. 375)
Eve Van Cauter, and endocrinologist at the University of Chicago School of medicine, conducted a study on the effect of sleep on the body. She monitored every system in her young volunteer’s bodies while they slept. They had limited sleep for 4 hours for six nights. According to the study “some volunteers were on the road to diabetes in just six days” (Cauter). Van Cauter made a shocking discovery that lack of sleep may be linked with obesity. Her volunteers also had a slight drop in their leptin levels, which is a hormone that tells the brain when your full.
A recent sleep study performed by Harvard School of Public Health showed people “who slept five hours or less were 15 percent more likely to become obese” (Harvard School of Public Health). With an estimated eighteen percent of adults in the United States getting less than six hours of sleep each night, 53,000,000 people may be at risk of becoming obese due to lack of sleep alone. According to the North American Association for the Study of Obesity,
Reduction in sleeping hours has become a hallmark of modern society. In fact, the proportion of young adults sleeping 8 to 8.9 hours per night has decreased from 40.8% in 1960 to 23.5% in 2001–2002 in the United States. During the same time period, the incidence of obesity has nearly doubled. Four epidemiological studies have found that a higher BMI is associated with shorter sleep duration. (North American Association for the Study of Obesity)
The obesity epidemic does not affect adults alone. An...