Increasing the number of hours of sleep adolescents get each night may reduce the prevalence of adolescent obesity, according to a new study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Results of the study show that fewer hours of sleep is associated with greater increases in adolescent body mass index (BMI) for participants between 14 and 18-years-old.
The findings suggest that increasing sleep duration to 10 hours per day, especially for those in the upper half of the BMI distribution, could help to reduce the prevalence of adolescent obesity.
Previous studies have shown that a correlation exists between short sleep and obesity, but until now few have been able to rule out other variables such as time spent watching television and being physically active.
The study's lead author, Jonathan A. Mitchell, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Penn Medicine said, "What we found in following these [study participants] adolescents is that each additional hour of sleep was associated with a reduced BMI for all participants, but the reduction was greater for those with higher BMIs. The study is further evidence to support that getting more sleep each night has substantial health benefits during this crucial developmental period."
The results were published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.