Shedding pounds in your sleep?

With obesity being such a hot topic for clinicians, researchers, and the general public, everyone is trying to identify successful weight-loss techniques. The University of Pennsylvania just published a surprising finding that increasing hours of sleep may actually decrease the prevalence of obesity among adolescents. This longitudinal study  followed 1000 adolescents throughout their four years in high school, tracking sleep habits and weight. While sleep and BMI were only somewhat connected at the lower end of the BMI distribution, at the upper end, each additional hour of sleep was associated with a significant reduction in BMI. This relationship remained even when controlling for common correlates of obesity such as time watching TV and physical activity. The researchers suggest that at the age of 18, increasing sleep to 10 hours per night could result in a 4% reduction in adolescent obesity rates (BMI above 25kg/m2). That might not sound like a lot, but that would mean roughly 500,000 fewer overweight adolescents!