Obesity has become a major public health
issue throughout the world.
India harbours 5% of obese population
and this is likely to become an epidemic if due measures are not implemented.
In addition to the multitude of health hazards that obesity poses, there are
now more reasons to lose your sleep. The association of sleep problems and
major weight gain was examined in a major study in Finland. The results of the
Helsinki Health Study were published in the International Journal of Obesity. Sleep
problems have been found to have important implications for the prevention of
weight gain and obesity. They contribute to major weight gain in women.
is one of the very few studies that has examined the associations of sleep
problems with BMI and weight gain in particular. Most of the previous works had
explored the relationship between sleep duration with body mass index (BMI) and
weight gain. It has long been suggested that sleep problems are associated with
obesity. Sleep problems and obesity are risk factors for many diseases. The
effects of factors like age, BMI, physical health, health behaviour, marital
status, education, work arrangements, sleep duration and common mental
disorders were also considered in the study.
sleep problems defined in the study were:
Trouble falling asleep
Waking up several times per night
Trouble staying asleep
Waking up after the usual amount of sleep, feeling tired and worn out
risk of weight gain was found to be greater among women with frequent sleep
problems than among those with occasional sleep problems. No associations could be
confirmed among men. BMI had a negligible effect on the associations
studied. The other factors like physical health, health behaviour, marital
status, education, work arrangements and sleep duration were also found to have
only minor effects on the association. Though sleep problems may be linked with
mental health, the relationship is complex. Authors write that 'frequent
problems in initiating sleep were somewhat more strongly associated with weight
gain in women than other sleep problems'.
Though problems maintaining sleep were also associated
with weight gain the differences were found to be minor. The study is not
devoid of limitations. But it provides novel evidence suggesting that sleep
problems contribute to major weight gain in women. The results highlight the
need for proper management of sleep problems since it may aid in the prevention
of weight gain and obesity. So don't forget to check out with your doctor when
you start losing sleep. A stitch in time may save you from gaining weight.
International Journal of Obesity