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Not enough sleep "leads to obesity"

People who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be obese, according to research involving 14 nurses at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in the US.

Scientists believe that poor sleep patterns are linked to stress, which reduces levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full, and thus encourages people to eat more.

According to the research, those identified as "short sleepers" had an average body mass index (BMI) of 28.3 compared with 24.5 for "long sleepers".

BMI links weight and height; thus, those with a rating of 30 or above are clinically obese, normal is 18.5–24.9, and overweight is 25–29.9.

It was found that on average, short sleepers had greater difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, and verged on the obese. Long sleepers were at the upper end of the normal range.

Meanwhile, while overweight individuals tended to be more active, and used 1,000 more calories a day than than people of normal weight, the extra energy expenditure did not reduce their weight.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Walter Reed Army Medical Centre

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