Scientists discover that well-slept teenagers make healthy food choices as compared to those who have not slept properly. Someone has rightly said, "Sleep is the best meditation."
Lauren Hale, PhD, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine conducted a study to analyze this difference of food choices in well-rested teenagers and their non-resting peers.
AdvertisementPrf. Hale said, "Not only do sleepy teens on average eat more food that's bad for them, they also eat less food that is good for them,"
Hale added, "While we already know that sleep duration is associated with a range of health consequences, this study speaks to some of the mechanisms, i.e., nutrition and decision making, through which health outcomes are affected."
Prof. Hale's study was financially aided by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
The experts examined the relationship between food choices and sleep duration in a sample of 13,284 teenagers. The data was gathered in 1996 and the mean age of the teenagers was 16 years.
The researchers observed that 18 percent of the teenage volunteers having inadequate sleep were more involved in consuming fast food about twice or thrice a week. These teenagers ate less of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
During the study, factors such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status family structure and physical activity were taken into account, but the scientist noticed that short sleep duration was an important factor while making healthy and unhealthy food preferences.
The volunteers were categorized in three groups-short sleepers who slept for less than seven hours, mid-range sleepers sleeping for seven to eight hours of sleep and recommended sleepers who slept longer than eight hours per night.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics the recommended sleep for a teenager is between nine and 10 hours per night.
Allison Kruger, MPH, a community health worker at Stony Brook University Hospital stated, "We are interested in the association between sleep duration and food choices in teenagers because adolescence is a critical developmental period between childhood and adulthood."
He added, "Teenagers have a fair amount of control over their food and sleep, and the habits they form in adolescence can strongly impact their habits as adults."
The research team comprising of Eric N. Reither, PhD, Utah State University; Patrick Krueger, PhD, University of Colorado at Denver; and Paul E. Peppard, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, concluded, improper and inadequate sleep was an important cause for teenagers binging on fast food.
By improving sleep, teenage obesity can also be prevented and good health can be promoted.
Dr. Hale suggested that research is also required to find out the relation between sleep duration and food preferences.
She strongly advocated, "If we determine that there is a causal link between chronic sleep and poor dietary choices, then we need to start thinking about how to more actively incorporate sleep hygiene education into obesity prevention and health promotion interventions."