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Sleep-Deprived Teens May Crave Carbohydrates

TUESDAY June 14, 2011 -- Daytime sleepiness is associated with an increased craving for carbohydrates among teens, according to new research.

The study of 262 high school seniors in New Jersey found that their desire for carbohydrates increased with the severity of daytime sleepiness. The likelihood of having a strong craving for carbs was 50 percent higher among those with excessive daytime sleepiness.

The researchers also found that students with strong cravings for carbs were more likely to have depression (34 percent) than those with little or no desire for carbohydrates (22 percent). Students with major depression were nearly three times more likely to have a strong craving for carbohydrates.

"This is one of the first studies in a high school population to show a linear relationship between carbohydrate craving and sleep deprivation," principal investigator Dr. Mahmood Siddique, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.

Sleep plays a major role in regulating appetite and metabolism, Siddique noted in the news release.

"This study is important given the rising epidemic of obesity among teens as well as increasing metabolic syndrome and diabetes among young adult populations," Siddique said. "This study highlights the importance of diagnosing sleep deprivation as a risk factor for obesity among young adults. Those who are depressed and sleep-deprived may be at special risk for obesity."

The study was to be presented Tuesday at SLEEP 2011, an Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Minneapolis.

Most teens require a bit more than 9 hours of sleep a night to feel alert and well-rested during the day, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about teens and sleep.

Posted: June 2011


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