Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sleepy Teens Eat More Fatty Foods and Snacks

Poor sleep habits go hand-in-hand with unhealthy diets for teenagers. A new study shows teens that sleep less than eight hours on weeknights usually eat more fatty foods and snack more often than their well-rested peers.

The high-fat, snack filled diet is a recipe for obesity, especially as female teens as researchers discovered through data analysis.

Short sleep durations may cause a number of small adjustments in eating habits, altogether changing a teenager’s energy balance. Results show teens who slept less than eight hours consumed 2.2 percent more calories from fat and 3.0 percent fewer calories from carbohydrates.

Sleep-deprived teens were also more likely to grab a snack between meals. For each extra hour of sleep the change of consuming a high amount of calories in snacks decreased by 21 percent.

The study examined the diets of 240 teens in Cleveland, Ohio. Wrist actigraphy data indicated only 34 percent of the participating teens slept for more than eight hours per night. Researchers cross-referenced the hours each teen slept with nutrition data, collected in interviews.

The authors of the study say it’s not clear why the relationship between sleep length and eating habits is stronger for females. They speculate teenage girls are more likely to engage in emotional eating. Because the findings were based on correlation, researchers could not determine the cause of the relationship.

Females with poor sleep habits may unhealthy foods, but men potentially face far worse consequences. Men with long-term insomnia are more likely to die.

Learn more about teen sleep habits and what is keeping them awake at night.

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