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Sleep and obesity

Beccuti, Guglielmoa,b; Pannain, Silvanaa

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: July 2011 - Volume 14 - Issue 4 - p 402–412
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109
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Purpose of review This review summarizes the most recent evidence linking decreased sleep duration and poor sleep quality to obesity, focusing upon studies in adults.

Recent findings Published and unpublished health examination surveys and epidemiological studies suggest that the worldwide prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980. In 2008, 1 in 10 adults was obese, with women more likely to be obese than men. This obesity epidemic has been paralleled by a trend of reduced sleep duration. Poor sleep quality, which leads to overall sleep loss has also become a frequent complaint. Growing evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies points to short sleep duration and poor sleep quality as new risk factors for the development of obesity.

Summary Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite. Recent epidemiological and laboratory evidence confirm previous findings of an association between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity.

aDepartment of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, USA

bDepartment of Internal Medicine, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

Correspondence to Silvana Pannain, MD, Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, The University of Chicago, MC 1027, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., Chicago, IL 60637, USA Tel: +1 773 702 3275; fax: +1 773 702 7686; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.