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Teens who don't get enough sleep might be at risk for packing on the pounds

May 4, 2010 |  7:04 pm

Obesity has been linked to several lifestyle factors, including sleep. Studies have shown a connection between lack of sleep and higher body mass index in adults and children, but that relationship may hold true for teens as well.

Id2ehpkf A new study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver this week showed an association between sleep deprivation and a higher BMI. Researchers looked at data on 723 adolescents, average age about 15, and gave each one an accelerometer, which measures movement. The study participants were also asked about their sleep habits on weekdays and weekends, how often they had problems sleeping, and calorie consumption.

Overall, sleeping less was linked with a higher BMI. That relationship was seen in teen boys who had less sleep on weekdays and weekends. For girls, getting less sleep on weekends only was associated with a higher BMI. There was also a strong relationship between lack of sleep and higher BMIs for middle schoolers, but not for high schoolers.

"Sleep has long been recognized as an important health behavior," said Leslie Lytle, in a news release. "We are just beginning to recognize its relationship to overweight and obesity in children and adults alike." Lytle, who headed up the research, is from the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute.

-Jeannine Stein

Spending copious hours playing video games may cut into needed sleep time. Photo credit: Tim Boyle / Getty Images