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Obesity linked to hormonal changes, lack of sleep

The less you sleep, the more weight you may gain.
So say School of Medicine researchers, who found in a recent study that sleep loss leads to higher levels of a hormone that triggers appetite, lower levels of a hormone that tells the body it’s full and an increased body mass index.

The findings not only add to the growing body of evidence showing that sleep duration may be an important regulator of body weight and metabolism, but they also document for the first time the relationship between sleep and these hormones in the general population, tracking how hormonal changes are consistent with obesity.

The paper by Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and colleagues at Stanford and the University of Wisconsin was published Monday in the online issue of Public Library of Science.

“Our results demonstrate an important relationship between sleep and metabolic hormones,” the researchers noted in the paper. “In Western societies, where chronic sleep restriction is common and food is widely available, changes in appetite regulatory hormones with sleep curtailment may contribute to obesity.”

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Kids eat hefty number of calories while watching TV

Elementary school children eat nearly 20 percent of their daily calories while watching television, researchers at the School of Medicine have found. Their study suggests that TV-time munching may be a good target for obesity prevention interventions. Scientists have linked television viewing to childhood obesity in several epidemiological studies, but teasing out the reasons for this association has proved less straightforward. Previous studies have shown that children are affected by television advertising for (often unhealthy) foods, and research on adults suggests we tend to keep eating for longer when the TV is on. In the current study, researchers set out to learn more about the amounts — and types — of food that sample groups of third- and fifth-graders ate while watching television.

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