In a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers explore the connection between sleeping patterns in teens and their food choices. It was determined that adolescents who went to sleep earlier made healthier breakfast choices.
Obesity continues to be of major concern across the lifespan. Previous studies have shown a connection between late bedtimes and short total sleep time (TST) on the consumption of foods with a higher glycemic index (GI), which have been linked to an increased risk of obesity. GI measures how quickly blood sugar spikes after food consumption (ie. high GI indicates a rapid spike in blood sugar levels). As eating patterns in teens tend to persist into adulthood, understanding the role that sleep plays in food choices may be critical in preventing the development of obesity in adulthood.
Researchers recruited 42 adolescent participants who enrolled in a sleep intervention program to encourage earlier sleep times. Prior to the start of the program, participants slept at a sleep lab where they went to bed and awoke at their usual times. In the morning they completed a food desire task (where they would rate the desirability of a food item), and a snack task (where foods were made available and consumption was measured). After a 6-week sleep intervention program, the food desire task and snack task were repeated.
The results of the study indicate that the adoption of an earlier bedtime resulted in a reduction in the desire and consumption of high GI food items. This effect was not seen in participants who did not have an earlier bedtime.
The researchers claim that this is the first study of its kind to explore the relationship between food consumption and sleep in teens. This provides insight into an area for early intervention and prevention in weight-gaining behaviours.
Written By: Nicole Pinto, HBSc