Another Reason to Catch Some zZzs: Lack of Sleep Increases Teens' Obesity Risks

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Another day, another study proving the benefits of a good night's sleep. In case you still need convincing that slumbering is important, new research suggests that teens who don't get enough rest increase their risk of being obese in their twenties.

This study was conducted at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health. They found that 16-year-olds who got less than six hours of sleep a night were 20 percent more likely to be obese by age 21. It's important to keep in mind that the recommended amount of sleep for teens is 9-10 hours per night, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

In this study, nearly one in five 16-year-olds said they get less than six hours, which is a huge amount of overtired teens. Shakira F. Suglia, an assistant professor who analyzed the results, says,

Lack of sleep in your teenage years can stack the deck against you for obesity later in life. Once you're an obese adult, it is much harder to lose weight and keep it off. And the longer you are obese, the greater your risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The research also points out that being sleepy during the day can cause food cravings and result in eating less healthy foods or consuming unhealthy beverages like soda.

For further proof about the importance of sleep, be sure to check out our story from the September issue of Choices about Jilly Dos Santos, a 17-year-old who petitioned to get her school time to start later... and won! Get the story here, which includes tips about how to relax and unwind before bed.

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Did you know there's a health and well-being magazine for teens? Learn more about Choices here.