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With increasing evidence proposing that there is a link between sleep and diet, researchers have recently investigated the link between sleep duration and the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

We already know that eating fruits and vegetables can be good for our general health by decreasing the risk of long-term diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) even recommends 400g or more of fruit and vegetables due to their health benefits. In addition to this, a recent review of past studies demonstrated that short sleep was associated with a 45% increased risk of obesity in conjunction with a decreased intake of fruit and vegetables.

Due to the lack of research investigating the link between sleep duration and fruit and vegetable intake, researchers from Leeds University in England conducted an observational study to investigate this link further. Their findings were published in BMJ Open.

During this study, 1612 adults between the ages of 19-65 were asked to use a four-day diary to track their sleep and intake of fruits and vegetables. The results from the study showed that long sleepers ate 28g per day less fruit and vegetables compared to individuals who get seven to eight hours of sleep a day. On the other hand, short sleepers consumed 24g less a day of fruit and vegetables compared to those who slept seven to eight hours.

Thus the findings of this study demonstrate the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and sleep duration. The researchers of this study highlight the potential implications of this link for lifestyle and behavioural change policies.

However, it must be highlighted that there are some limitations to this study such as the fact that the participants of the study were self-reporting their duration of sleep from memory and could lead to over-reporting. In addition, this type of study known as a cross-sectional study cannot identify causal relationships—it can only identify associations.

Nevertheless, the results of this study do suggest that there is a link between the intake of fruits and vegetables and the duration of sleep. Future research work is needed to investigate this link further to support and confirm the findings of this recent study.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer

Reference: Noorwali, E., Cade, J., Burley, V. and Hardie, L. (2018).The relationship between sleep duration and fruit/vegetable intakes in UK adults: a cross-sectional study from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. [online] BMJ Open. Available at: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/4/e020810 [Accessed 19 May 2018].

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