Poor sleep and obesity: Concurrent epidemics in adolescent youth

Anisha Gohil, Tamara S. Hannon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Scopus citations


Poor sleep and obesity are both extraordinarily common in the US adolescent population and often occur simultaneously. This review explores the links between obesity and sleep, outlining what is known about the relationships between sleep characteristics, obesity, and cardiometabolic risk factors in youth. Sleep duration is less than optimal in teens, and decreases as age increases. This is detrimental to overall well-being and is associated with obesity in children, adolescents, and young adults. Accordingly, inadequate sleep duration is associated with poor diet quality, decreased insulin sensitivity, hyperglycemia, and prevalent cardiometabolic risk factors. Evidence suggests that poor sleep quality and altered circadian timing characterized by a preferred later sleep onset, known as "adolescent chronotype," contributes to shortened sleep duration. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs more frequently among youth with obesity, and is associated with autonomic nervous system activity promoting higher blood pressure, increased markers of cardiovascular disease risk, and insulin resistance. While there is a clear association between OSA and type 2 diabetes in adults, whether or not this association is prevalent in youth is unclear at this time. Interventions to improve both sleep duration and quality, and obesity in adolescents are scarce and more evidence is needed to determine if such interventions can improve obesity-related health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number364
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - Jul 10 2018


  • Cardiometabolic risk
  • Diet quality
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Poor sleep
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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