Insufficient Sleep Duration during Adolescence Increases the Risk of Being Overweight
Prolonged sleep deprivation was found to increase the risk of being overweight in girls.
The findings of the research, conducted by Professor Jin-ho Kim’s team, were published in the Journal of Adolescence.
▲ Professor Jin-ho Kim (left, corresponding author) from the Division of Health Policy and Management of the College of Health Science, Korea University; Gum-ryeong Park (right, first author), a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto and a graduate from Korea University with a doctoral degree in Health Policy and Management
Sleep duration during adolescence is closely associated with physical growth and learning abilities. South Korean teenagers get 7 hours and 18 minutes of sleep per night on average, one hour less than their OECD counterparts. This means that many of them experience persistent sleep deprivation as they strive every day to achieve better academic performance. Little is known about how persistent exposure to short sleep during adolescence leads to long-lasting health consequences since research thus far has mostly focused only on the link between sleep duration and health.
Professor Jin-ho Kim from Korea University, together with Dr. Gum-ryeong Park, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, recently published the findings of their study on the relationship between persistent sleep deprivation and increased risk of being overweight in the Journal of Adolescence.
The research team conducted an empirical analysis targeting 6,147 adolescents using data from the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey from 2011 to 2016. They defined 8 h of sleep as the standard cut-off for short sleep duration and focused on persistent exposure to sleep deprivation over the years of the survey. The analysis showed that prolonged sleep deprivation affected the weight of boys and girls differently. For girls, continued exposure to short sleep duration over the five-year For boys, however, prolonged sleep deprivation was not significantly related to the likelihood of being overweight. Regarding such findings, the research team pointed out that girls were more vulnerable to biological changes triggered by the function of a sex-specific hormone and social pressure to conform to feminine beauty standards.
Professor Kim highlighted the significance of this study by stating, “Much is known about the importance of sleep for physical and emotional development during childhood and adolescence, but this research is significant as it confirms the long-lasting effects of persistent sleep deprivation in terms of being overweight.” He further stressed, “It is necessary to actively explore preventive measures allowing youth to get sufficient sleep by helping them avoid unhealthy habits and behaviors and protect themselves from stressful circumstances.”