(NaturalNews) There is no doubt that Americans are getting fatter. According to the National Institute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 – 2004 indicates that approximately two thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, and nearly a third of those people are obese. The NIDDK also reports that 17.5 percent of children (age 6 to 11) and 17 percent of adolescents (age 12 to 19) were overweight in 2001 to 2004.
There is also no question that Americans are not well-rested. According to a CDC press release, there are between 50 and 70 million people who suffer from chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders. The CDC reports that only one out of three people surveyed felt they got enough sleep every single night during the month's time period covered by the survey. Lack of sleep is such a big problem in America that some people subject themselves to the dangerous side effects of sleep aids which include "sleep-driving," amnesia, and worse.
With Americans growing fatter and more sleep-deprived, researchers are beginning to search for a correlation between the two. Francesco P. Cappuccio, MD, of the Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom, and some other researchers conducted a review of publications concerning the relationship between short sleep duration and obesity risk. According to a press release by The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the research showed that children and adults from around the world who don't get enough sleep show a consistent, elevated risk of obesity.
Dr. Cappuccio provides some explanation about the research. "By appraising the world literature," he states, "we were able to show some heterogeneity amongst studies in the world. However, there is a striking consistent overall association, in that both obese children and adults had a significantly increased risk of being short sleepers compared to normal weight individuals. The size of the association was comparable (1.89-fold increase in children and 1.55-fold increase in adults)."
He is careful as he explains his conclusions. "This study is important as it confirms that this association is strong and might be of public health relevance. However, it also raises the unanswered question yet of whether this is a cause-effect association. Only prospective longitudinal studies will be able to address the outstanding question," said Dr. Cappuccio.
Obesity is a serious problem. According to the NIDDK, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many diseases including diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood cholesterol, stroke, hypertension, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and other breathing problems, and some forms of cancer (breast, colorectal, endometrial, and kidney). The NIDDK also reports that obesity is associated with pregnancy complications, menstrual irregularities, hirsutism (presence of excess body and facial hair), incontinence, depression and other psychological disorders, increased surgical risk, and increased mortality. Additionally, the NIDDK discloses that obese individuals also have between a 10 and 50 percent increased risk of death from all causes, when compared with healthy-weight individuals.
Therefore, while no cause-effect association between obesity and lack of sleep has been proven, it seems prudent for individuals to get an appropriate amount of sleep. Given all of the dangerous side effects of sleep medications, it also makes sense to regulate sleep using natural methods. Many of the natural ways of regulating sleep may also have some other health benefits, as well.
In an article about insomnia, Mike Adams states, "I strongly encourage you to avoid the seduction of using herbs or drugs to get your sleep. Instead, take the more difficult journey: a journey of detoxing your diet, of taking a good, hard look at everything that's going on in your life, what foods you're putting into your body, what drugs or psychoactive substances you might be consuming, how much physical exercise you're getting, how much sunlight you're getting, how much water you're drinking on a regular basis, and so on. This is a difficult journey for a lot of people, but it is the only journey that can really cure insomnia." Sounds like good advice.
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Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She hosts the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.