Chicken or the egg: obesity and sleep deprivation

Another article (I must be bored this morning) caught my eye. It appears that a definite link has been found between sleep deprivation and obesity:

“The ‘epidemic’ of obesity is paralleled by a ‘silent epidemic’ of reduced sleep duration with short sleep duration linked to increased risk of obesity both in adults and in children.These trends are detectable in adults as well as in children as young as 5 years.”Professor Cappuccio points out that short sleep duration may lead to obesity through an increase of appetite via hormonal changes caused by the sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep produces Ghrelin which, among other effects, stimulates appetite and creates less leptin which, among other effects, suppresses appetite. However he says more research is needed to understand the mechanisms by which short sleep is linked to chronic conditions of affluent societies, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

So which comes first? Is a person obese because they are sleep deprived, or does the sleep deprivation start from being obese (e.g. sleep apnea)? Either way, it leads directly into a vicious cycle, one that is surprisingly hard to break out of. But apparently one can add “consistently getting a good night’s sleep” to the list of things to do to help lose weight.


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