It is not shocking to hear that UK has a smoking problem. Despite the government’s endless anti-smoking campaigns and advertisements geared at encouraging the general public to quit the habit, smoking contributes to more than 100,000 deaths alone in the UK. Furthermore, according to the Policy Exchange thinktank, smoking related health issues cost the NHS £14bn. In the past couple of years, the government have implemented a number of key legalisations to curb smokers. It now also looks as if the government’s anti-smoking crusade will not end here, as a new proposed legislation will see plain packaging for cigarettes be introduced in another bid to reduce the number of people, in particular the young from starting smoking.
The new legislation, which is set to be announced in the Queen’s speech later this year in May, is essentially following Australia’s smoking model, which believes that the branding of tobacco is a decisive factor in why young people initially start the habit. The approach down under, sees all cigarette packaging consisting of dull olive colouring, each displaying the brand name in a uniformed font type. The packaging is also covered with graphic imagery, used as a health warning, to show the harmful health effects caused by the habit, like lung cancer. Such methods, used by Australia have shown to be effective, and proven to be a deterrent for young smokers evident by figures, which show a fall in the number of people who smoke. Believing too, like Australia that branding plays an important role in encouraging young people to start smoking, the UK hopes that by adopting these methods, it too will help to lower its worryingly high statistics.
Some critics have questioned whether what is essentially ‘de-branding’, will have an effect and deter people, especially the young from tabacco smoking. I too admit to having mixed feelings of the level of its effectiveness and whether changing the packaging will help turn people away from the habit. However, along with the success in Australia, a study conducted for the department of health, by the University of Stirling found that people felt that ‘plain package colours, had negative connotations, weakened attachments to brands, projected a less desirable smoker identity, and exposed the reality of smoking. Likewise findings from the study also found that non-smokers were also more inclined to find plain packaging less attractive than smokers, and younger people found such packets less attractive than older people. These results show just how much product packaging can play in promoting or deterring young people to smoke or not.
In addition to plain cigarette packaging, the government’s proposal is also likely to include a ban on drivers smoking in cars if passengers include anyone aged 16 years or under, to prevent children and young people’s chances of exposure to cigarette smoking, and prevent the health risks of second hand or passive smoking. Both of these methods are by no means the first call to action against smoking that the government have introduced. This legislation is just one of many, following the banning of advertising cigarettes and smoking in public places, as well as all major supermarkets ending the open display of tobacco products from view. All of these smoking constrictions have in turn been considered a success.
I agree banning smoking in cars if children are present is a must in order to prevent them from the risks of smoking, and maybe prevent them from becoming accustomed to cigarette smoke. In terms of packaging, I don’t think that changing the packet of cigarettes will have much of an effect on seasoned smokers, without the aid of prescription quit-smoking treatment. For young people however, it is well known that logos and branding play a large part in shaping young people’s attitudes and decisions. The studies and figures seem to concur with this belief. Thus if we deter the younger generation from the habit that is smoking, we may be able to save and prevent a whole new generation from effectively lighting up.
Whether taken via tablet supplements, drinks, fruits or specific foods, our daily vitamin C recommendation according to the NHS is 40mg a day. There is no doubt that including vitamin C in your daily diet has a number of health benefits such as helping to build up your immune system. Hence it is not surprising that it is often marketed as a cure for the common cold. Over the years however, this belief has been questioned by critics, who have been dubious about on how effective vitamin C truly is in preventing a cold from occurring. According to the Daily Mail however, a new report has claimed that vitamin C can in fact help to fight off the sniffles. However, its effectiveness is only realised if you exercise frequently.
Best known for its ability to strengthen the immune system, which can help to protect your body from the risk of infection, and maintain teeth and bones, vitamin C also has a number of health benefits when taken as a daily supplement in your diet. Researchers argue that vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and ensure apt dilution of your blood levels, which can prevent diseases like high cholesterol. Considered to be a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also works to protect the body from free radicals, which potentially can lead to stroke or heart disease. It can also help to improve your skin, reduce wrinkles and reduce your risk of eye disease. Thus foods such as oranges, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, lemons are just some of the foods highly enriched with vitamin C.
The study, which had more than 11,000 participants, saw scientists from the University of Helsinki research the true benefits of vitamin C. After giving participants, which included, school children, marathon runners, teenage competitive swimmers and Canadian soldiers, a dose of vitamin C to evaluate how it affected their health. Findings showed that the risk of a cold was significantly halved amongst the partakers under temporary physical stress like exercise. Furthermore, the participating teenager swimmers who had colds and thus took supplements of vitamin C, recovered effectively and twice as fast as those who had a cold but failed to take the vitamin.
Although the supplementation of vitamin C clearly has a number of health benefits, the study’s findings to prove just how beneficial the inclusion of vitamin C in our daily diet is, in particular when preventing the common cold are somewhat limited. The effectiveness of vitamin C and its ability to prevent colds has always been questionable; with many people including myself believing that little has been proven to how much it can really help to build the immune system. The findings taken from the study concur with this theory, suggesting that unless you are exposed to regular periods of intense physical exercise the recommended dose of vitamin C is not vindicated and may not be as effective in treating a cold as we have previously been led to believe.
The eating habits of children have for a long while been on the government’s agenda in the fight against childhood obesity, a fight most noticeably demonstrated by Jamie Oliver’s nine year campaign over the last nine years over food standards and children's school dinners. Hence it could be argued that the Jamie Oliver effect single handily changed the way we look at food and the food that children are consuming during school hours. Subsequently, since the changes were implemented,a food trust set up by the government, which annually carries out a study to check and ensure that nutritional changes are upheld, has been axed.
According to The Guardian, reprots have confirmed that the trust will now be discontinued. Such an important campaign being cut is quite concerning, and begs the question, how will this affect the country’s on-going campaign against childhood obesity?
Emerging in the wake of Jamie Oliver’s TV campaign, which focused on the poor quality of food with little nutritional value and served in many of the UK’s schools, The Children’s Food Trust was set up to ensure food standards were upheld. According to the Guardian however, the fund has been told that their campaign will no longer be commissioned, primarily due to a lack of funding.
The campaign worked with 152 local authorities in England, gathering essential information regarding school meals, such as catering facilities, the cost of meals, school meal take ups, the training of staff and most importantly the standard of school meals and the food that was being served to children. Worryingly in the wake of the cuts there has not been any suggestion made by the government that an alternative programme will take its place. Thus checking if changes in school meals are being employed to satisfactory standards will subsequently cease to exist.
According to the NHS Information Centre for health and social care, a study looking at children in primary school, found that one in three were overweight or obese. Obesity has been for a long time a concerning factor for the government. And as such the risk of children’s school dinners reverting back to fatty foods and foods that have little or no nutritional value is somewhat concerning, if surveys such as The Children’s Food Trust are no longer monitoring food standards.
When looking into the causes behind childhood obesity, it is maybe unfair to solely blame the epidemic on school meals. As such we cannot forget about the other factors that contribute to the obesity crisis. Yes it could be argued that parents have a reasonability to ensure that their children are eating nutritional and healthy foods. Likewise, children buying junk food and sugary foods while on their way to and from school also significantly plays a part and must not be overlooked. However, schools essentially have the authority and power to re-educate young children on the importance of healthy eating, subsequently implementing such beliefs through their school dinner system. If children have a healthy, and fulfilling nutritional meal this may deter them from buying from junk food shops to fill their appetite, and also have a better understanding of food and healthy eating.
The significance of checking school meal standards are met through campaign groups like The Children’s Food Trust is essential in the fight against obesity in particular child obesity. According to Jo Nicolas the trust’s head of evolution, failing to monitor the quality and type of food can have far reaching consequences. He argues that this may include children buying more food outside of school, and the increase of kids who are “less focused in the classroom and are not performing to their full potential.”
Not only are the food standards in regards to school meals essential in preventing the childhood obesity crises from escalating, it can also help to prevent future health complications that can develop as a result of obesity. These complications include type2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart diseases. By cutting important campaigns the government is placing a great risk on children and obesity, a risk in my opinion, in which the consequences are too immense.
Is it ever really possible to know a person’s social background merely from observing their size or weight? The public health minister seems to think so. According to The Independent, Anna Soubry recently caused controversy with her claims that people from poorer backgrounds (in particular children) are easier to identify because they are more likely to be overweight.
Although I do not believe that you can generalise and determine a person’s physical appearance (in this case weight) with their social wealth. I do have concerns on the growing divide that there seems to be in this country regarding healthy eating and social prosperity. With the latest government reports showing 24.3 per cent of the most deprived children in the UK labelled as clinically obese, a figure almost double in comparison with children from wealthier backgrounds, it is clear that there is a link between wealth and obesity.
It is no consequence that parents on poorer incomes are likely to buy the cheapest food in order to cut costs and feed their family. So supermarkets, which has previously been blogged on, selling high fat and high sugar foods on cheap prices does little to make shopping for healthier foods any easier. Another problem is that the high fat, high sugar and high salt foods, are not only cheaper in price but are usually the ones put on special deals such as buy one get one free. With many parents losing their jobs or receiving pay cuts thus receiving less income for their household, these foods seem all the more desirable.
Linked in with the low cost of foods is the increasing popularity of the ready-meal. Cheap, quick and pretty much self sufficient when it comes to preparation, it is not surprising that these foods, which often have high levels of salt can become a staple for so many families whose food budget is somewhat limited.
In poorer and deprived areas the growing number of fast food retailers is ever present. Convenient and cheap these shops increasingly act as a temptation to cash strapped families. Likewise whether it is on the way to or from school, children are constantly bombarded with these junk food shops and thus eating from them. These processed, high fatty and high salty foods, which have no nutritional value and are simply highly calorific, will fuel health complications for the next generation and create an obesity gap that in my opinion is becoming all the more evident.
The secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, recently attacked the irresponsibility of the food industry and supermarkets that marketed foods as healthy when evidence proved otherwise. In fact research conducted by Which? found that these foods contained excessive amounts of sugar and salt. Such misleading and often confusing information may contribute to parents buying such produce in bulk, while failing to realise just how much these foods contribute to obesity, which evidently contributes to health problems. Likewise, the cheaper foods brands proved to have more sugar and salt than their expensive equivalents.
With the cost of obesity putting substantial strain on the NHS, and affecting the next generation of future adults (predominantly from deprived backgrounds), it is clear something has to be done. If obesity and poverty are intrinsically linked surely the government needs to look into poverty in this country. As Imran Hussain, head of policy at Child Poverty Action Group, said: "Obesity, in this country and in other developed countries, is linked to deprivation.” [The Daily Telegraph]
It is well known that those who suffer with asthma are affected by long-term respiratory conditions caused by the inflammation of the airways, therefore consequently affecting the lungs. Thus throughout an asthma sufferers life a number of symptoms, which range from mild to severe can occur. Wheezing, coughing, experiencing a tight chest and difficulties in breathing, which in severe cases can lead to an asthma attack are a constant a threat. Despite the numerous asthma treatments currently available, a new study reported by the Daily Mail has concluded that a patch containing a form of protein containing dust mites can help to ease the distressing symptoms of asthma.
According to the study, this patch will effectively help to ‘re-tune’ your immune system preventing it from overreacting should you come into contact with triggers. However, whether you suffer from asthma, or whether your partner, children or loved ones are asthma sufferers, it is essential that you are able to identify the triggers to this condition in order to manage asthma symptoms and more importantly prevent an attack from occurring. For each individual, the triggers may slightly differ, thus it is usually advised that you keep a diary and note down any symptoms that arise when you come into contact with a known irritant. The most common asthma triggers are:
Animals including dust mites, tiny animals that live and thrive in objects including bed mattresses, sofas, and deep in carpets is a known irritant for asthma sufferings. Likewise the fur and saliva from household pets, like cats and dogs all also act as triggers and irritants for those who have the condition. Having a pet only zone, using floorboards instead of carpet and regularly washing your hands could help alleviate potential asthmatic symptoms from occurring.
A cigarette contains toxic chemicals and poisonous gases that subsequently affect you by causing inflammation of the lungs and causing symptoms to occur. Whether it’s from directly smoking yourself or inhaling smoke from passive smoking, cigarettes are known triggers of asthma and can effectively make symptoms worse and an attack more likely. Quitting smoking or avoiding smoke filled environments help prevent future attacks.
For some people exercise can be a trigger that effectively brings on asthmatic symptoms. For this reason ensuring that asthma treatment/ inhalers are brought along with you, is often recommended.
According to health professionals, emotions relating to stress can cause asthmatic symptoms to emerge. Alternatively getting too excited can also set off symptoms. Carrying asthma inhaler treatment is a sure way to manage any symptoms.
Whether it’s pollen from the environment, traffic and transport fumes, industrial fumes and potent perfume, all of these odours can act as irritants.
For some people symptoms can activate from certain foods. The most common foods include but are not limited to: shellfish, nuts, products containing yeast, certain animal milks and food colourings and preservatives. To prevent foods from triggering symptoms keeping a food diary to note down any reactions that occur from certain foods will help eliminate your trigger foods from non-trigger foods.
Catching a cold, or the flu can cause symptoms of asthma to occur. Although it is impossible to completely avoid viral infections, there are a number of things that can be done to significantly lessen your chances of catching the cold or flu. Similarly during the winter season flu medication may help to prevent from infections from occurring.
Doctor surgeries could soon treat sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia on the spot in a new scheme being considered by the government. The Health Protection Agency is considering a change to the system over fears that STIs like chlamydia, which can go unnoticed for years, increases the risk of the infection spreading. Thus such a scheme could potentially help reduce the spread of the potentially dangerous disease.
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in Europe, passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex. With the rate of the infection significantly rising every year in England, it is not surprising that such a drastic overhaul is being considered hence there are many reasons on why it could be argued that such a measure should be introduced. Likewise below are facts on chlamydia and why a new solution such as the one proposed may be required.
According to the charity Advert, chlamydia cases have more than doubled since 1999. Furthermore in 2008 alone there were a record number of people infected with the disease, with 123,018 new diagnoses of chlamydia in GUM clinics.
Although anybody who has unprotected sex can get chlamydia, it is most common in people under 25 years old, thus giving cause for concern for the younger generation.
Many people who have chlamydia do not experience any symptoms. Likewise according to the NHS, around 70-80% of women who have the infection, fail to notice any symptoms. Should they occur, symptoms in a woman usually include; pain or bleeding during sex, bleeding after sex, pain when you urinate, changes in vaginal discharge, pain experienced in the lower abdomen, heavier periods than usual. While in men, pain while urinating, pain in the testicles and discharge from the tip of the penis are chlamydia symptoms that may be detected. Unfortunately, many people with chlamydia do not notice any symptoms, making this infection even more dangerous if left untreated.
As most people who have chlamydia fail to spot any symptoms, it is often left untreated, increasing the risk of complications. If left untreated for women, the disease can spread to the womb/uterus, ovaries or the fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility, pelvic pain, an increase of a miscarriage and make you more susceptible to other infections. While in men, chlamydia can cause inflammation to the testicles, and sperm tube. Likewise swelling and irritation on the scrotum is another effect of the infection. Chlamydia can also cause a man’s sperm production to drastically decrease, increasing the risk of infertility problems.
The above facts clearly give a good reason to why such a project needs to be introduced, and will certainly help to decrease the spread of chlamydia as well as help prevent harmful complications. However, it will not stop people from having unprotected sex, and fails to educate people on the importance of contraception and safe sex. Instead it could be argued that it provides a quick fix solution without really looking at the problem, such as the reasons why chlamydia levels in the UK are ridiculously high and are continually on the rise. Instead it defies what many health clinics claim believe is the best method against STIs, which is ‘prevention is better than cure’.
Winter is officially here. You can see it by the morning frost, the sudden emergence of hats, coats, and gloves and the never-ending darkness. For many people, the arrival of winter brings forth the excitement that is linked with the upcoming seasonal holidays. However, for others the months of winter fuel feelings of depression. According to studies, winter depression, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is estimated to affect at least one in 15 people every year. Although a common notion is that winter depression does not exist, researchers have suggested otherwise.
According to the NHS, most scientists believe that SAD is linked to the way that the body responds to daylight. As the winter months produce less daylight, this results in higher levels of melatonin, which in turn causes you to constantly feel lethargic and depressed. Likewise, other key symptoms linked with SAD include sleep problems, comfort eating and irritability. Luckily there are a number of tips available that could help you to beat the winter blues.
Although it may sound odd considering it is the seasonal environment that is creating your misery, going outside during daylight hours can significantly help to reduce your SAD. It is important to remember that during the winter months daylight hours are much shorter, so it best to go outside during midday when it is still light.
Two of the key symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are depression and comfort eating, therefore including exercise into your daily routine is essential. Not only does regular exercise release “good chemicals” into the brain, thus helping to increase your energy levels, it can also significantly improve your mood, helping to beat depression. As overeating is another symptom of the winter blues, putting on weight is perhaps not surprising. Regular exercise to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle will help you to avoid putting on weight. Putting on excessive weight may lead to obesity, which could in turn fuel depression and lead to a number of potentially serious health issues.
A healthy diet full of plenty of fruit and vegetables will help to boost your mood, provide your body with more energy and help prevent you from gaining weight during the winter. Foods such as oily fish and eggs to provide vitamin D, which is severely deficient due to the lack of sunlight during the winter months, are highly beneficial.
Having problems sleeping is a key symptom linked with the winter blues. Various studies associate a lack of sleep with emotions linked to irritability and depression. During the long and cold winter months, it is therefore essential that you aim to get a substantial amount of sleep to normalise your sleeping patterns in order to get more energy, which during the cold months can be hard to maintain.
Taking up a new hobby can go a long way to beating winter depression. Whether it’s going to the gym, joining a sports group or a book club or writing or blogging, activities allow you to focus and concentrate on something other than the weather, giving you something to look forward to. Likewise, according to researchers, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can be helped through socialising with other people.
If you think that you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), there is help available to help manage the symptoms. Counselling groups, cognitive behavioural or psychotherapy therapy can all help to alleviate symptoms. Likewise there are registered charities who are solely dedicated to help those suffering from this depressive disorder and can help prevent you from feeling blue over the festive period.
It is not new knowledge that the recession in Britain has had a significant impact on economy and the lives of the British public. Job losses, housing prices and general living costs have all affected our expenditure and the way we live our lives. Another outcome of the recession is the relentless rise in food prices, which have steadily increased over the years. According to The Telegraph, high food prices have driven the average household towards cheaper high fatty foods in a bid to cope with the country's ever-surging food prices and dwindling incomes.
Perhaps the most concerning thing is the ever-widening gap between those of poorer incomes versus wealthier incomes, whereby lower income families have been condemned to “an increasingly unhealthy diet.” The link between obesity and wealth is not a new one, but nevertheless this report is still worrying. Research has shown us that obesity has a domino effect, resulting in a number of health complications such as diabetes and heart-related illnesses. Thus to many food campaigners, the economical crisis, which has been blamed for many of the country's current problems, is the sole reason behind obesity. But is such a notion accurate?
In the UK, the rise of obesity continues to be problematic, with Foresights Tackling Obesities: Future Choices warning that a lack of intervention would see “60% of men, 50% of women, and 25% of children in Briton to be clinically obese by 2050.” One reason for this is the over-consumption of high fat foods, which just add to the country’s growing problem. So the increase of fatty foods, as suggested by the recent report, is a direct result of high food prices, creating a number of health implications that could potentially be far reaching.
It is widely known that one of the main causes of obesity is the continuous over consumption of calories from food, which stores in your body and eventually leads to fat. Another cause of obesity is societal influences, in particular social deprivation, which many researchers agree has a significant impact on a person’s likelihood of becoming obese. This link is further corroborated by the government's ‘Call to Action’ report, which acknowledges that those in lower social economic groups are more at risk of obesity than those from wealthier incomes.
Although technically Britain is out of recession, the hike in food prices has created poor income households to resort to the high fat and generally cheaper foods in order to stay within budget. Such action has prompted the decline of the consumption of fruit and vegetables, a vital component in healthy eating. Looking at such information, it is clear that food prices influence people's buying decisions and in turn can influence the obesity crisis. Although I agree that social deprivation plays a huge part in eating healthfully and obesity, it is not the only contributory factor. Other factors such as genetics, biology and the amount of physical activity that a person does are all causes that can contribute towards a person becoming overweight and obese.
Buying high fat food due to income does not just have repercussions in terms of obesity and weight gain. It can also lead to further health complications such as type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease, asthma, stroke, chronic lower back pain, high cholesterol, infertility, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gallstones and depression. In particular, the link between type 2 diabetes, with health professionals agreeing that the risk of type 2 diabetes is significantly increased as your body mass index (BMI) increases. If a person becomes obese or excessively over-weight as a result of excessive consumption of food, then the body becomes resistant to insulin. It is scary to think that according to Diabetes UK, there are approximately half a million people who have diabetes and do not know it. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to further complications, which could potentially be fatal.
Although social deprivation and having a low income are not the sole cause of obesity, it cannot be ignored that they play a large part in the UK obesity problem. The government needs to address the issue regarding the prices of food if they do not want the country to face what food campaigners have termed as a ‘nutritional disaster triggered by poverty.’ If food prices continue to rise and lower income households continue in turn to opt for the cheaper foods, and live on what has been coined as a “pot noodle diet" full of fat and little nutrition, we will face an obesity crisis on a grand scale in which the consequences could be far–reaching.
Whether it’s criticism directed at TV dramas and films for explicit content or aimed at pop stars for promoting both risqué and sexualised self images, the blaming of over sexed teens as a result of society is not new. According to the Daily Mail, a recent and still untitled study follows this tradition with its claim that teenagers with smartphones and subsequent Internet access are more likely to have sex than those with simpler mobile devices.
However, although there is definitely a case to show how much technology and in this case smartphones have played a part in providing teens with access to information that otherwise would have likely been prohibited on home internet, I still think that smartphones and subsequent internet access can benefit young people in regards to sex, providing them with necessary information. While for critics, furthering their sex education knowledge and awareness could be seen as a negative, I think that there is a strong case to argue that broadening the minds of enquiring teens could also serve as a positive to improve the ignorance or lack of knowledge that many teens today have in relation to sex.
The study claims that Internet access from smartphones makes teens more than twice as likely to be sexually active. Of course it is true that the availability of the Internet will allow young people an easier avenue to meet up and “make it easier” for sexual encounters, agreed by the University’s school of Social Work’s researcher Eric Rice. Of course having the Internet could make it easier to have sex, but it is not the decisive factor in whether teens have sex with one and other. Before the availability of Internet on portable phones teenagers were still finding ways to meet up and have sex.
In contrast to the potential negative effects that they can create, I believe that smart phones could also be used constructively. As a result of providing an advanced Internet service they can become a source of learning or used as an educational tool to help educate our youngsters about sex and sexual health. Teens that feel unable to talk to their parents, or lack basic knowledge due to the country’s often criticised sex education system, may feel that they can discreetly obtain such information through their phones. The importance of safe sex and the consequences of having sex could be areas that they could learn about further. Internet access could also serve to help teenagers who may think that they have an STI and may use the Internet on their phones as a way of checking for any symptoms or helping them to recognise that they have such symptoms. This convenience could allow them to get the support to actively seek medical help and treatment as soon as possible.
Having such easy access to crucial information at their very finger-tips, therefore should have positive consequences. Should they opt to find such information online through their phones, I think it is crucial that parents, schools and the government steer them to registered online health clinics and health websites that can both educate and adequately provide help and guidance. Likewise, it would be beneficial if sex education in schools could choose to include technology and sex in the national school curriculum to keep up with modern society and to help our teens use smartphones in relation to sex, the right way.
When many people think of someone who is either gaining weight or overweight, they sometimes tend to think of somebody who is lazy and generally lacks mobility, in comparison to somebody who includes exercise into his or her daily routine and thus has an active lifestyle. So a recent article by the Telegraph, in which a study has suggested that increasing the amount that you sleep can in fact beat obesity, effectively turns such a perception on its head.
According to researchers, the study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Reports, found that a lack of sleep created a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance causes a person’s appetite to increase, resulting in weight gain. The importance of sleep proved so great that even a small decrease in sleep time was found to potentially contribute to the increase of appetite and subsequent weight gain.
The research, which took place in the United States, found that not only were a third of Americans obese, but also more than a quarter get six or fewer hours of sleep a night. According to the professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, "Various investigations, although diverse, indicate an effect of partial sleep deprivation on body weight management.”
Using 15 years worth of research to establish the responsibility of sleep deprivation in regards to “energy balance and weight regulation”, it was found that those who had limited sleep experienced changes in their hormones, which included reduced insulin sensitivity, an increase in ghrelin (hormone linked to hunger) and a decrease of the production of leptin (the hormone that tells your brain that you are full and should stop eating). A subsequent hormone change, the report argues, had a direct affect on the energy levels of those that participated in various studies over the years and essentially aids in increasing a person’s appetite.
Whether it is a way to deal with emotions, or simply a quick alternative due to lack of time and a stressful lifestyle, stress is intrinsically linked with a person’s eating habits, in particular weight gain. Researchers have found that cortisol, regarded as the stress hormone, is often secreted during times of stress. Such disruption of Cortisol secretion can effectively cause weight gain, although for every individual this may differ. Stress can also affect or even prevent a person’s sleeping habits. The study, however, failed to show any link between the two, and it is not clear whether obese participants in the study just had limited amounts of sleep or if they also suffered from stress.
No one is denying the benefits that sleep has to offer regarding weight loss and the importance of sleep in creating good physical and mental health. But the study fails to mention how much sleep is needed in order to avoid weight gain, or rather what constitutes a sufficient amount of sleep. Does this mean that a person who sleeps more but exercises less will see more weight loss than a person who exercises more but sleeps less? The message from both the article and study is misleading.
Although it does acknowledge that additional obese treatments, which include eating habits and lifestyle changes, all contribute to weight loss, thus preventing a person gaining excessive weight, it puts great responsibility on a lack of sleep as the reason behind weight gain, suggesting that an increase of sleep is the central factor to preventing weight gain but showing no evidence of this within its research.