Less Sleep in Teen Years Tied to More Pounds as Young Adult

A lack of sleep not only puts teenagers at risk for poor grades and poor health, it can also put them at increased risk for obesity as a young adult.

Lack of sleep not only puts teens at risk for poor grades, it also puts them at increased risk for obesity, researchers warn.

The study authors analyzed data collected from more than 10,000 Americans when they were aged 16 and 21. Nearly one-fifth of them got less than six hours of sleep a night when they were age 16, and this group was 20 percent more likely to be obese at age 21 than those who got more than eight hours of sleep per night at age 16, the investigators found.

Although lack of exercise and too much time spent watching television were also risk factors for obesity, these behaviors did not account for the link between lack of sleep and obesity.

"Lack of sleep in your teenage years can stack the deck against you for obesity later in life. Once you're an obese adult, it is much harder to lose weight and keep it off. And the longer you are obese, the greater your risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

"The message for parents is to make sure their teenagers get more than eight hours a night. A good night's sleep does more than help them stay alert in school. It helps them grow into healthy adults.

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