People who have insufficient sleep are at increased risk of developing obesity and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study by the University of Leeds in the UK.
The research, published in PLOS One, reveals that people who sleep about six hours a night had a waist 1.2 inches larger than those who reported sleeping nine hours a night.
Researchers studied 1,615 adults’ sleeping and eating patterns. The participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure recorded.
The study leader Dr Laura Hardie noted in a statement, “Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep.”
“How much sleep we need differs between people,” she continued, “but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults.”
Furthermore, the study also revealed that lack of adequate sleep is associated with poor metabolic health. Those who slept less also had less good cholesterol, aka HDL cholesterol, which remove fats and cholesterol from cells.
Although previous studies have suggested that shortened sleep can lead to poor dietary choices, the study did not find any connection between shortened sleep and a less healthy diet, a fact that surprised the Leeds team.
Greg Potter, one of the researchers, said the number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980.
In 2014, a study published by British medical journal The Lancet showing that almost half of Malaysian adults are overweight or obese—possibly the highest rate in Asia.
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