Irregular sleeping habits could increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes among those who are genetically overweight, according to new findings.
The University of Glasgow study looked at how different sleep patterns can affect people and their health.
They found that people with high genetic risk for obesity who either slept for too short or too long a time, napped during the day, or worked shifts appeared to develop adverse effects regarding their body weight.
In what the researchers say is the first study of its kind, the effects of these abnormal sleeping habits were observed alongside genetics of participants.
People who are genetically prone to weight gain were shown to be roughly 4kg heavier if they slept for more than nine hours, while those who got less than seven hours of shut eye were 2kg heavier.
Lead author Dr Jason Gill, from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, explained that while the outcome was the same regardless of diet, health or socio-demographics, no link was found among those with a lower genetic risk of obesity.
“The influence of adverse sleep characteristics on bodyweight is much smaller in those with low genetic obesity risk – these people appear to be able to ‘get away’ with poorer sleep habits to some extent,” he said.
Co-author Dr Carlos Celis, who is a research associate of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, added: “It appears that people with high genetic risk for obesity need to take more care about lifestyle factors to maintain a healthy body weight.
“Our data suggest that sleep is another factor which needs to be considered, alongside diet and physical activity.”
The study has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN).

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