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Lack of sleep increases unhealthy abdominal fat –Report

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NEW research shows that lack of sufficient sleep combined with free access to food increases calorie consumption and consequently fat accumulation, especially unhealthy fat inside the belly.

  The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, dated March 28, 2022.

  Outcomes of a randomised controlled crossover study led by Naima Covassin, PhD, a cardiovascular medicine researcher at Mayo Clinic, show that lack of sufficient sleep led to a 9% increase in total abdominal fat area and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to control sleep.

  Visceral fat is deposited deep inside the abdomen around internal organs and is strongly linked to cardiac and metabolic diseases.

  The authors of this study agree inadequate sleep is often a behavioural choice, which may become increasingly pervasive.

  For instance, researchers noted that more than one-third of adults in the US routinely do not get enough sleep, in part due to shift work, and smart devic  es and social networks being used during traditional sleep times.

  Also, people tend to eat more during longer waking hours without increasing physical activity.

  “Our findings show that shortened sleep, even in young, healthy and relatively lean subjects, is associated with an increase in calorie intake, a very small increase in weight, and a significant increase in fat accumulation inside the belly,” says Virend Somers, MD, PhD, the Alice Sheets Marriott Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and principal investigator of the study.

  “Normally, fat is preferentially deposited subcutaneously or under the skin. However, inadequate sleep appears to redirect fat to the more dangerous visceral compartment.

  “Importantly, although during recovery sleep, there was a decrease in calorie intake, and weight, visceral fat continued to increase. This suggests that inadequate sleep is a previously unrecognized trigger for visceral fat deposition and that catch-up sleep, at least in the short term, does not reverse the visceral fat accumulation. In the long term, these findings implicate inadequate sleep as a contributor to the epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,” says Dr Somers.

  The study cohort consisted of 12 healthy people who were not obese, each spending two 21-day sessions in the inpatient setting.

Participants were randomly assigned to the control (normal sleep) group, or restricted sleep group, during one session – and the opposite during the next session, after a three-month washout period. 

  Each group had access to a free choice of food throughout the study, whilst researchers monitored and measured energy intake; energy expenditure; body weight; body composition; fat distribution, including visceral fat or fat inside the belly; and circulating appetite biomarkers.

  The first four days were an acclimation period. During this time, all participants were allowed nine hours in bed to sleep.

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