Shahrad Taheri, MBBS, PhD ; and Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD
+ Author Affiliations
From University of Birmingham, Birmingham Collaboration for Leadership in Health Research and Care, and Heartlands Biomedical Research Centre, Birmingham B9 5SS, United Kingdom ; and Stanford Sleep Medicine Center, Redwood City, CA 94063.
The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide, with serious consequences for affected individuals, health care systems, and society. Because of the lack of effective interventions for obesity prevention, obesity is likely to continue to be a major public health challenge for many years to come. Once obesity occurs, the available medical treatment options include only a diminishing array of drugs and bariatric surgery. The key to successful weight loss and its maintenance is adoption of a healthy lifestyle through altering food selection, reducing calorie intake, and increasing physical activity (1). Unfortunately, many obese individuals do not successfully modify their lifestyle, and many who succeed initially do not maintain positive behavior changes and eventually regain weight. The barriers to maintaining healthy body weight are complex and include physiologic, psychological, and social factors. Emerging evidence points to sleep duration as another factor that influences weight (2). From a population perspective, sleep duration has decreased as obesity rates have risen (3). Both animal and human studies document physiologic links among sleep duration, circadian rhythms, and metabolism (4). Furthermore, geographically diverse studies including individuals of various ages suggest a link between short sleep duration and obesity (5).
However, most studies on sleep and weight are cross-sectional and thus are unable to determine which came first : the short sleep or the high weight (3, 6). One large population-based study provided insight into potential mechanisms, showing that shorter sleep was …