Sleep Deprivation the Effects It Has on Adolescent Obesity Term Paper

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Sleep Deprivation and Adolescent Obesity

Sleep Deprivation the effects it has on adolescent obesity.

Sleep deprivation and adolescent obesity: Literature review

We have become a 24/7 society. Adolescents in particular are known for shortchanging themselves on sleep. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 30% of adult men and women sleep less than 6 hours a night and many adolescents sleep far less than that on a regular basis (Gupta 2003). And the rise in obesity corresponds with a subsequent decline in the average number of hours teens sleep every night. Adolescent obesity has tripled in the past thirty years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For example, one study by Gupta (et al. 2003) compared sleep patterns in obese and non-obese adolescents and found "obese adolescents experienced less sleep than nonobese adolescents (P < 0.01). For each hour of lost sleep, the odds of obesity increased by 80%. Sleep disturbance was not directly related to obesity in the sample, but influenced physical activity level (P < 0.01). Daytime physical activity diminished by 3% for every hour increase in sleep disturbance" (Gupta 2002: 762). This suggests a link between reduced sleep and increased obesity in our society has a clear relationship upon weight and weigh gain.

Of course, some might postulate that demographic factors are at the heart of this trend: adolescents who get less sleep may be less apt to eat properly and exercise. However, Cauter & Knuston (2002) found "sleep curtailment in young adults results in a constellation of metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, elevated sympathovagal balance, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite" (Cauter & Knuston 2002).
This suggests that there is an endocrine basis for why sleep loss causes overeating and weight gain.

Animal studies support this contention. Mice who are 'bred' to be obese, for example, have "a mutant form of the obese gene that -- in normal mice -- codes for leptin, a peptide hormone secreted by fat cells" which causes them to exhibit the same signs of starvation as normal mice even when they are obese. (Trenton 2009). People who are born with leptin deficiencies similarly experience constant hunger, and weight gain can only be mitigated through synthetic applications of the hormone. By disrupting the function of leptin, in other words, sleep deprivation can cause even a normal body to behave in an abnormal way, as if it had the same genetic coding of the obese mice. It should be noted that obesity has a strong genetic component already; however, with negative environmental influences like sleep deprivation, certain genes are more likely to be expressed, such as those which govern the hormone leptin. Obesity can also be viewed as a 'rational' response to environmental stressors, like periodic food shortages in the house, which also can cause children to overeat (Trendon 2009). The stressor of sleep deprivation much like other forms of anxiety can trigger a primal 'eat now, because who knows when the next meal is coming from' response.

Another possible reason for the link between obesity and sleep deprivation is that when people are sleep deprived, they are exposed for a longer period of time to food cues, either on television or in their environment. "When research animals are presented with food cues, they consume more food despite.....

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