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
Prf. 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
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
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
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