Thursday, October 19, 2006

Britons are getting fat and lazy too

The Times of London (online version creatively called the Times Online) reports today that Obesity is linked to lack of childhood sleep.

Here is the main jist of the story:

Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, that control appetite have been shown to be affected by sleep disturbances in experiments at the University of Wisconsin.

Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells to tell the brain that fat stores are adequate, and ghrelin, released by the stomach, is a signal of hunger.

In people with too little sleep, the Wisconsin team have found that leptin levels were low, and ghrelin levels high. Both these would encourage an individual to eat more.

The most obvious reason why children sleeping badly would get fat is that by day they would be tired and inactive. Even a small drop in activity can mean that calories consumed exceed calories expended, leading to weight gain.

The process could feed on itself, he suggests. Lots of physical activity means that people sleep better: a lack of it means they sleep less well. So as the sleep debt accumulates and daytime activity falters, sleep suffers yet more, creating a vicious cycle.

Seems reasonable to me. When you don't sleep, you're tired. When you're tired, you're lazy. When you're lazy, you're inactive. When you're inactive, you don't sleep well.

So just remember: if you're fat, it's not your fault. Your parents should have put you to bed earlier and forced you to be active insead of sitting in front of the television. Sure, you may consume more calories than you burn, but that's not your fault. It's your parents. [The sad part is, some people actually believe that.]

Personally, I think that a lack of sleep likely contributes to all kinds of fun diseases that are mysteriously on the rise in today's society. When your body isn't rested, it can't defend itself. For example, I never sleep; and I'm always about 30% sick. And I'm gonna die of a heart attack. But that's Big Fast Food's fault. ;)

Incidently, in a BBC report on the same story...
Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and a member of the National Obesity Forum, said the problem with obesity in the UK was "huge" and continuing to rise.
I think that is kinda humorous. Describing childhood obesity as a "huge" problem. Wow.

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