Research Paper: Sleep Deprivation the Effects it Has on Adolescent Obesity

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Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Adolescent Obesity

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that "dozens of studies spanning five continents have looked at the link between sleep duration and obesity in children." (2013, p.1) Key to maintaining good health is a good night's rest and while this is widely acknowledged researchers are demonstrating that individuals who get too little sleep are at a higher risk for gaining weight and obesity than those individuals who sleep seven to eight hours each night.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this study is to examine the issue of adolescent obesity and to determine is sleep deprivation effects adolescents in a manner that results in them having obesity. Obesity among adolescents is growing at an alarming rate.

Research Questions

The central research questions in this study include those stated as follows:

(1) How Does Sleep Affect Body Weight?

(2) Is sleep deprivation linked to obesity?

(3) Is obesity associated with poor sleep quality in adolescent.

Literature Review

The strongest evidence is reported to have been derived from longitudinal studies of children. For instance, a British study that is reported to have "followed more than 8,000 children from birth" states findings that children who slept less than 10 and 1/2 hours each night at the age of three years had a 45% higher risk of becoming obese by age 7 compared to children who slept more than 12 hours a night." (Harvard School of Public Health, 2013, p.1)

Project Viva, is reported to have conducted a U.S. prospective cohort study of 915 children and states findings that include that infants "who averaged fewer than 12 hours of sleep a day had twice the odds of being obese at age 3, compared with those who slept for 12 hours or more." (Harvard School of Public Health, 2013, p.1) Sleep of shorter duration is reportedly linked to:

(1) maternal depression;

(2) introduction of solid foods prior to four months and (3) infant TV viewing. (Harvard School of Public Health, 2013, p.1)

The habits a child forms regarding their sleep are believed to have effects on weight that are long-term effects and that will follow them into adulthood.

A research study conducted in New Zealand which followed 1,037 children from birth until the age of 32 and that collected information from parents on the child's average number of hours sleep at ages 5, 7, 9, and 11 found that "each one hour reduction in sleep during childhood was associated with a 50% higher risk of obesity at age 32." (Harvard School of Public Health, 2013, p.1)

The work of Al-Harian (2008) reports that obesity is a great problem among children in the United States with "nine million children over six years old" obese according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2005). Al-Harian states as well that Healthy People 2010 states that there has been a rise from 10% to 15% of the percentage of overweight children between 6 and 19 years of age from 1994 to 2000. Since obesity strong predicts cardiovascular disease and is linked to quite a few conditions that are not healthy and among them high blood pressure as well as abnormal glucose and cholesterol levels, social discrimination and depression in addition to behavioral problems, the study of obesity among children is very important.

Al-Harian additionally reports that children are receiving less sleep in contemporary times. For example, Al-Harian reports that the average adolescent slept 9.1 hours per night in 1910 however, adolescents slept on an average of 7.4 per night in 1994. Al-Harian notes that factors including "television, computers, video games, school cellular phones and the pace of contemporary life" all serve to influence the documented reduction in sleep that adolescents are presently receiving each night. (2008, p. 8) Lack of sleep has negative results in the lives of adolescents as well including "excessive daytime sleepiness, and interference with an adolescent's safety and health." (Al-Harian, 2008, p.9)

Al-Harian reports the use of 'thermogensis' as the conceptual framework for the study reported. Thermogensis is the body's production of heat and the method used by the body for burning fat. Al-Harian reports that the body's expenditure of energy can be classified as:

(1) obligatory;

(2) adaptive; and (3) physical activity.

Thermogenesis as it is applied in the area of control of body weight is taken to mean "the balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure." (Al-Harian, 2008, p.10) Therefore, obesity results from the adolescents eating more due to more time awake and opportunity to eat which results in an increase in body weight and ultimately obesity. The study of Taheri (2006), Chaput, Lord et al. (2007) report that reduced time sleeping results in hormonal levels and activities being altered in a manner that impacts hunger and appetite and the energy balance of the body is throw out of kilter affecting hunger and appetite in a direct manner.

Studies that documented the link between total time spent sleeping and the levels of leptin, ghrelin sleep time is reported to have varied from short duration deprivation in the acute setting to chronic sleep restriction in the general population. (Al-Harian, 2008, paraphrased) the study conducted by Taheri, et al. (2004) states findings that individuals who normally slept five or less hours per night had "a ghrelin level of 15% more and a leptin level 15% lower" than individuals who normally received seven hours of sleep each night. The findings stated by Taheri, et al. agrees with findings reported by Spiegel, et al. (2004, 2007) as well as reinforcing the study reported by Chaput, Dupres et al. (2007).

The study reported by Kelman (1999) as well as the study reported by Dahl and Lewin (2002) states findings that adolescents need more rather than less sleep than younger children and that this need is due to the "intense physical, hormonal, intellectual and social changes they are experiencing." (Al-Harian, 2008, p.20)

Al-Harian reports that the Toyama Birth Cohort Study, beginning in the 1990s "served as a basis for two of the foundational studies completed." (2008, p.20) the study's objective was to examine the children of Toyama, Japan in terms of their lifestyle and health. The study of Kaamimori, et al. (1999) examined environmental factors including sleep duration and childhood obesity among 9669 children who were three years of age and born in 1998. Specific environmental factors studied included:

(1) meal intake;

(2) snack intake;

(3) nutritional value concerns;

(4) physical activity and outdoor play;

(5) bed and wake time; and (6) total sleep duration; and (7) family dynamics. (Al-Harian, 2008, p.20)

The statistically significant indicators were reported as "irregular snack intake, physical inactivity and reduced sleeping hours." (Al-Harian, 2008, p.20)

The work of Pacheco (2013) reports a study of the link between partial sleep deprivation and obesity and specifically examines the stages of sleep:

(1) rapid eye movement (REM); and (2) non-rapid eye movement (NREM).

Pacheco states that REM sleep accounts for approximately 20 to 25% of sleep whereas, NREM sleep accounts for approximately 75 to 80% of total sleep in four stages which are representative of "a continuum of relative depth." (2012, p.4) Pacheco repeats the facts that sleep influences two primary hormones playing a major role in the regulation of appetite: (1) leptin; and (2) ghrelin. Specifically "leptin may be elevated at night to inhibit hunger during the overnight fast. Ghrelin levels decrease rapidly after the ingestion of meals and increase after 1.5 -- 2 hours with the resurgence in hunger." (p.5)

The work of Shaikh, Patel and Singh (2009) report a randomized cross-sectional study conducted on 489 volunteer participants who were Indian adolescents in the age group of 16 -- 19 years. Participants were grouped according to:

(1) Adequate sleep duration at night (more than seven hours); and (2) Inadequate Sleep Duration at Night (less than seven hours) as reported by participants in the study.

The participants are reported to have been assessed for "adiposity in terms of BMI, BF %, FM, FMI and waist circumference, meal frequency per day and physical activity status." (p.1) the BMI, BF%, FM and FMI in both boys and girls "were significantly lower in the ASDN group than the IASDN group. However, there was an insignificant difference in the meal frequency and physical activity status between the ASDN and IASDN group." (Shaikh, Patel and Singh, 2009, p.1) the study concludes by stating that inadequate sleep duration results in increased adiposity among Gujarti Indian adolescents but further studies are required to find out the mechanisms through which sleep affects adiposity in this population." (Shaikh, Patel and Singh, 2009, p.1)

The effects of sleep on body weight are stated by the Harvard School of Public Health to be due to increase energy intake due to sleep deprivation because it:

(1) Increases hunger -- lack of sleep is believed to alter the hunger controlling hormones;

(2) Giving individuals more opportunity to eat -- sleeping less may result in eating more than those receiving a full night's sleep;

(3) Causing the choice of diets that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Sleep Deprivation the Effects it Has on Adolescent Obesity.  (2013, March 8).  Retrieved March 24, 2019, from

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"Sleep Deprivation the Effects it Has on Adolescent Obesity."  8 March 2013.  Web.  24 March 2019. <>.

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"Sleep Deprivation the Effects it Has on Adolescent Obesity."  March 8, 2013.  Accessed March 24, 2019.