Inadequate sleep increases unhealthy stomach fat, study reveals – TrendyNewsReporters

Inadequate sleep increases unhealthy stomach fat, study reveals

A new study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic has indicated not getting adequate sleep could increase the risk of developing unhealthy belly fat.

The researchers recruited 12 healthy individuals who were not fat for the study, ranging from age 19 to 39. 

The participants were studied for a few weeks to regulate the amount of sleep they got, and they were closely monitored for the amount of food they ate and the energy they exerted.

For the first four days, participants slept for nine hours. For the next two weeks, half of them were restricted to four hours of sleep every night while the other half slept for nine hours. 

Afterward, both sets spent nine hours in bed for three days and nights for recovery. All participants of the study ate as much as they wanted throughout the study.

Individuals who got little sleep ate on an average of about 300 more calories each day, in comparison with those in the nine-hour sleep group.

The researchers discovered that individuals in the restricted sleep group had up to a nine per cent increase in stomach fat and an 11 per cent increase in unhealthy belly visceral fat.

Visceral fat surrounds the abdominal organs deep inside the body and has been strongly connected to heart disease and other illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

A researcher in cardiovascular and sleep medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Virend Somers, MD, PhD, said in a news release about the study, “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.” 

“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 unrecognised 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,” she said.

Naima Covassin, PhD, the study leader and an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Mayo Clinic stated in a news release, “The visceral fat accumulation was only detected by CT scan and would otherwise have been missed, especially since the increase in weight was quite modest — only about a pound.

“Measures of weight alone would be falsely reassuring in terms of the health consequences of inadequate sleep. Also concerning are the potential effects of repeated periods of inadequate sleep in terms of progressive and cumulative increases in visceral fat over several years.”

According to the authors of the study, having an inadequate amount of sleep is often a behaviour choice, adding that shift work, use of smart devices and social networks during traditional sleep hours, are things that can distort sleep.


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