Obesity and sleep

I saw in the newspaper the other day a report that suggested people who got more sleep in an evening had less chance of becoming obese. Conversely those that slept for only a few hours had a higher risk of obesity.

I didn’t take much notice at the time – I was too busy carefully dismantling a shed in my back yard, and consequently too buggered after my labours to return to the article.

So, it wasn’t until tonight that I tried looking for the story on Stuff . The page was no longer available. Strange.

So I googled “sleep and obesity” . I discovered a story on Web MD written in 2004 :

…based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I (NHANES I). More than 9,000 people participated in the initial study, which was conducted from 1982-1984. They were initially weighed, and later, researchers obtained a self-reported weight for follow-up. More than 8,000 people took part in a 1987 follow-up study.

People who reported getting less than seven hours of sleep a night were more likely to be obese on initial evaluation. The study also showed that they were also more likely to develop obesity during follow-up.

I was sure the report I had read was more ‘up-to-date’ than 2004, or 1987, or 1982.

So, I searched the NZ Herald site. There was a story dated January 2, 2008 :

A study of New Zealand seven-year-olds has found that sleeping fewer than nine hours a night is associated with being overweight or obese, even after accounting for time spent watching television, and physical exercise…

…”The study is important from the perspective of providing another means of preventing obesity,” said Ed Mitchell, the senior author and a professor of child health research at Auckland University…

It seems that research is repeated like TV programmes at Christmas. These findings are ancient…initially discovered more than 20 years ago, albeit in the US. Someone saw the need to repeat the study in New Zealand, on a much smaller sample, and now it’s a news story.

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