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Night-time snacking due to poor sleep quality may increase risk of obesity, diabetes

07 Jun 2018

A recent study shows that poor sleep quality may lead to junk food cravings, which when adjusted for covariates correlate with an elevated risk of obesity, diabetes and other health problems. In addition, night-time snacking is associated with increased risk of diabetes.

Night-time snacking had a 59.9-percent prevalence, and junk food craving 49.8 percent (some) and 17.1 percent (much). Younger individuals with depression and poor sleep quality were more likely to have cravings due to sleep loss, while adults who never married were less likely to have such cravings. There was no association observed for sex, race/ethnicity or sleep duration.

An association existed between “very much” poor sleep quality and increased likelihood of “much” junk food cravings (odds ratio [OR], 12.7; 95 percent CI, 7.7–21.0; p<0.0001).

After adjusting for covariates, sleep duration and sleep quality, analyses revealed that junk food craving was associated with increased likelihood of obesity (some: OR, 1.4; 1.1–1.8; p=0.009; much: OR, 2.0; 1.5–2.8; p<0.0001), diabetes (much: OR, 1.8; 1.3–2.6; p=0.001) and any health problem (some: OR, 1.3; 1.1–1.6; p=0.01; much: OR, 1.9; 1.4–2.6; p<0.0001). In addition, simply consuming a snack at night may increase the risk of diabetes (OR, 1.7; 1.3–2.2; p<0.0001).

The investigators collected data from a nationwide, phone-based survey of 3,105 US adults from 23 metropolitan areas. Participants answered the questions “Do you crave junk food more when you lack sleep?” coded ‘no’, ‘some’ and ‘much’, and if they eat a snack before going to bed. They also provided data on bedtime and waketime (to compute habitual sleep period), poor sleep quality (0=not at all; 4=very much), and history of obesity, diabetes, or any other health problem.

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