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Originally published December 9 2008

Excess Weight in Teen Girls Linked to Internet, Alcohol and Lack of Sleep

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Extensive Internet use, regular alcohol consumption and lack of sleep all significantly increase young women's chances of gaining excess weight, according to a study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers surveyed 5,036 girls and women between the ages of 14 and 21 about how many recreational hours they spent on the Internet and how many alcoholic drinks they consumed per week, as well as how many hours of sleep they got per night. The body mass index of all participants was calculated at the time of the survey and also one year later.

Body mass index, determined by comparing weight to height, is a commonly used measure of obesity.

Those who slept an average of five hours per night or fewer, or who consumed two or more alcoholic beverages each week, gained significantly more weight than those who got eight hours of sleep or who drank fewer alcoholic beverages, respectively. There was also a direct correlation between recreational time spent on the Internet and an increase in body mass index.

The total amount of weight gain observed in participants after one year was not very large, researchers said, but could definitely become a problem over time. For example, a 19-year-old woman with average height and weight (and thus a healthy starting body mass index) who was in the high-risk category in terms of alcohol consumption, Internet use and lack of sleep would gain four pounds in the course of one year.

The study was not set up to determine why these behavioral factors affect weight, but the researchers were willing to venture a few guesses. Excessive Internet use may lead to a decrease in physical activity, while being tired from lack of sleep may also discourage exercise. In addition, sleep is known to regulate metabolism and hormone levels. Alcohol, the researchers noted, contains a significant number of calories that people tend to forget about out.

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