The new research on adolescent sleep patterns, reported in the journal Sleep, suggest that sleep deprivation may increase obesity risk, especially in girls, says the study's lead author, Dr. Susan Redline, a professor in the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Redline told me she believes sleep may be the "missing link" in obesity treatment programs.
"Right now, people emphasize what you eat and how much exercise you get, but there's a wealth of research now that shows lack of sleep is also an important contributing factor," she says, and should be an essential component of obesity prevention and weight management programs.
Earlier research has identified links between sleep loss and weight gain, Dr. Redline says. Sleep deprivation may alter metabolic rates and increase levels of hormones that regulate appetite, for instance. And sleeping less may also simply provide more opportunities to eat and increase stress that drives reward-seeking behavior such as snacking, she says.
This program aired on September 1, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.