Is Staying Up Late Linked to Obesity?

The whole world may be suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s another epidemic we don’t pay a lot of attention to – obesity. It’s become a serious problem for millions of people around the world. There’s a certain stigma associated with it too, with obese people unable to lose weight because of the emotional distress.

Shedding weight isn’t that easy, from a physical and mental point of view. There’s been a lot of research on safe ways to lose weight, yet no study has been that effective so far. However, a recent research from the University of California found a surprising link between lack of sleep and increased weight.

How Sleep Affects Our Weight

The study analyzed whether our bedtime has any effects on our weight. Those parameters were later expanded to cover sleep duration, screen time, and other effects such as dietary habits and exercise frequency. Fast food consumption has been added to it too, with some interesting results coming back in return.

There were a total of 3,343 participants in the study which is not a small sample. Among them were adolescents aged 12 to 18 with a follow up on ages 18 to 32. The results revealed that the majority of teens (over 40%) prefer to go to bed later, sleeping in later, and engaging in physical activity later in the day. Known as “evening circadian preference”, this sleeping pattern is common for most adolescents. It has also been associated with high risk of obesity.

Why? Well, later bedtimes are linked to later meals, especially dinner. Eating late is associated with poor food choice and low to none fruit and vegetable meals. Eating later and staying up late interfere with proper insulin metabolism resulting in weight gain. According to another study, eating late and staying late at least 5 times per week results in significant weight gain in just a week. These factors are also linked to a sedentary lifestyle which means decreased physical activity.

Increased BMI is Another Problem

Being a night own isn’t just linked to obesity, but to something far more dangerous – high BMI. A high Body Mass Index is a precursor to many weight-associated health problems and cardiovascular diseases. This shows that later bedtime can drastically affect your health, even if the tools used to collect this data were not the gold standard.

Most of the bedtimes were self-reported, but with over 40% of the participants showing the same results, the study was on-point. If nothing else, it showed the direction further studies should take to reveal why the obesity epidemic is spreading at such a fast rate.