Teens who do not get enough sleep consume 2 kg of additional sugar in a school year

Due to their delayed secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and their education which forces them to get up early, adolescents are often sleep deprived. This is not without consequences for their attention span, their learning, but also their diet.

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In a new study, published on December 17, 2021 in the journal Sleep (Source 1), researchers observed that the loss of sleep caused by going to bed late caused adolescents to eat more carbohydrates (sugars), and caused a higher blood sugar load than normal.

“A shorter sleep (around 6.5 hours per night, editor’s note) increases the risk for adolescents of eating more carbohydrates and added sugars and drinking more sugary drinks than when they get enough sleep (around 9, 5h per night) ”, Commented Dr. Kara Duraccio, professor of clinical and developmental psychology at Brigham Young University (United States) and lead author of the study, in a statement (Source 2).

The study analyzed the sleeping and eating habits of some 93 adolescents. The researchers measured calorie intake, macronutrient content, types of foods eaten, and the glycemic load of foods eaten by participants.

12 grams of sugar more each day, or more than 2 kg at the end of the year

The results showed that adolescents who slept little (6.5h / night for a week) ate more foods that could increase their blood sugar, in other words foods with a high glycemic index, than when they slept more (9.5h / night for a week). That is the equivalent of 12 grams of more sugar per day. With most teens not getting enough sleep during the 180 nights of a school year, an extra 12 grams of sugar per day could result in more than 2 kg of extra sugar per year, the researchers say.

Adolescents who slept little also ate less fruits and vegetables when they slept little.

“What’s interesting is that sleeping less hasn’t caused teens to eat more than their peers with healthy sleep; the two groups consumed roughly the same amounts of calories from food. But sleeping less has led teens to eat more junk food “, said Dr Duraccio. “We suspect tired teens crave quick energy surges to maintain them [en éveil] until they can go to bed, so they look for foods that are high in carbohydrates and added sugars”, Added the researcher. In this sense, she believes that the problem of lack of sleep in children and adolescents should be integrated into the prevention and fight against childhood obesity modules.

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