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Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

Circadian Rhythms in Modern Life

October 10th, 2013 Raquel Rothe
Circadian-RhythmThis paper discusses the Western human circadian rhythm and its relation to health.

1. The circadian rhythm of a modern man

“In 1910, the average American slept nine hours a night, disturbed only by the occasional Model T backfiring. We now average 7.5 and declining.” – Robert Sapolsky (Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers)

The typical Western person’s circadian rhythm differs in at least three main ways of which the human species has adapted to in its history

First of all, the amount of light during night time. Before artificial lighting popularized, people spent the night in almost complete darkness . Today, most families live in almost constant light even if it is pitch black outside.

Second, the amount of light during the day is now lower than it has ever been in human history . The reason is that we do not spend much time outdoors. We spend the days indoors, where the amount of light can be over a hundred times less than the amount of light outside.

“Bright light can help shift even the most extreme body clocks,” says Professor Roenneberg. “But the amount of light in most offices is laughable. You would be lucky to get 400 lux [a unit of measurement of the intensity of light] at a bright vertical office window during the day, whereas outside on a cloudy day in summer you would experience more like 10,000 lux. If it’s a blue sky, you could get as much as 150,000 lux.” (Independent: Could you be suffering from ‘social jet lag’?)

The third current problem is sleep duration, which has been decreasing in recent decades.

In a study on connections between sleep and obesity published this year, it was found that in the 1960’s people slept about 8-9 hours a night. By 1995, the amount had shrunk to seven hours. In 2005, a third of the population slept for about six hours a night. Actigraphic and polysomnographic studies show that middle-aged people only get six hours of sleep on average. (Reiter et al. 2011)

Now we are going to speculate the effect of these on health by studying some research material on the subject.

2. The circadian rhythms’ connection with health – shift work and clinical sleep studies

People doing shift work is an interesting group when reflecting on the circadian rhythms’ effects on health. These people must for follow a very unnatural sleep rhythm because of their profession. Epidemiologic data shows that certain health problems are much more common among shift workers than in the average population.

  • Obesity – In a Swedish study 27485 people answered a survey and according to the results, shift work correlates to a 40% higher risk for obesity (BMI over 30) after adjusting for age and socioeconomic factors. (Karlsson et al. 2001)
  • Breast cancer – In Denmark the risk of breast cancer in nurses is 80% higher in those working day and night shifts. The longer the shift work had lasted, the larger the risk was. Those who had been working in shifts for over two years, the risk was 160% higher (after adjusting the results) than in those only working during the day. (Hansen&Stevens 2011)
  • Cortisol and obesity – In the Netherlands a small study (122 persons) showed, that in people doing shift work the amount of cortisol in a hair sample was larger (47 .32 vs 29.72 pg/mg). In young people doing shift work the BMI of these people was clearly higher compared to day workers (27.2 vs 23.7). (Manenschijn et al. 2011)

“If light were a drug, the government would not approve it,” says Professor Charles Czeisler of the Harvard Medical School. And Professor George Brainard of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, adds: “Humans evolved on a planet without electric light over thousands and thousands of generations. The body is designed to be alert and awake during daytime hours and to sleep at night. Now we have a 24-7 society that isn’t in harmony with our biological design.”

“In the new study, scientists grafted human breast cancer tumours on to rats and infused them with blood taken from women during the day, in the early hours of the morning, and after being exposed to light at night. The blood taken in darkness slowed the growth of the cancers by 80 per cent, but the blood taken after exposure to light accelerated it.” (Independent: Avoid breast cancer. Sleep in the dark…)

If even a few years of shift work can clearly be seen as an elevated risk for breast cancer, could a lifetime of sleep deprivation or other light related problems that affect most people have an effect on the risk of chronic disease? I would say it’s possible.

Some experimental studies have been done, in which for example the test subjects duration of sleep has been reduced.

  • In a study conducted by the University of Chicago, eleven young men were sleep deprived (four hours of sleep per night) for six days. This caused the test subjects’ cortisol levels to rise and sugar tolerance to temporarily decline. (Spiegel et al. 1999)
  • The same university published a cross over study, in which 10 overweight people were calorie deprived for two different time periods. During the one period they were allowed to sleep for 8.5 hours and in the other only 5.5 hours. The actual amounts of sleep were 7h 25 min and 5h 14 min. In both groups the subjects weights declined 3 kilograms, but in the sleep deprived group 80% of this weight was muscle. Without sleep deprivation 52% of the dropped weight was muscle and the rest fat. (Nedeltcheva et al. 2010Whole Health Source – The Big Sleep)
  • In an American study conducted in 2009, ten test subjects followed a 28 hour day instead of the normal, 24 hour day. Half way in the study the test subjects spending night time as day time, the test subjects leptin levels were about 20% lower during the day than before the test but during sleep the difference was smaller. Also the insulin levels were on average 22% higher and after breakfast (2h) the blood sugar rose 32% higher than normally. (Scheer et al. 2009)

3. The environmental light and melatonin secretion

Next we’ll dive into the world of melatonin, but first the basics.

The ambient light contributes significantly to the body’s circadian rhythm. In particular, blue light (460-490nm) inhibits the pineal gland from secreting melatonin. Melatonin is often called the dark hormone, because it is secreted at night.

Only blue light affects the secretion of melatonin, so if a person is wearing blue blocker sunglasses, melatonin secretion will not be affected. Of course, removing the short wavelengths (blue light) from lamps will have the same effect. (Sasseville et al. 2006Kayumov et al. 2007Chellappa et al. 2011).

Even normal lighting before going to sleep can decrease melatonin secretion which can have effects on health. The melatonin blocking effects of blue light can be significant especially in winter time, when the small amount of daytime exposure to light can cause the body to react more significantly to bright artificial light used in the evening. (Gooley et al. 2011Higuchi et al. 2007Park&Tokura 1999).

Only blue wavelengths of light have effect on melatonin secretion, but for example cortisol levels can rise from other wavelengths as well. (Figueiro&Rea 2010Leproult et al. 2001).

Below are empirical studies in which the amount or type of light has been altered and the results have been documented:

  • In Ohio the effect of blue blocker glasses and their effect on a person’s quality of sleep and mood was studied. Orange colored blue blocking glasses improved quality of sleep, but grey control glasses didn’t. (Burkhart&Phelps 2009)
  • Blue blocker lenses seem to be very effective for insomnia in ADHD subjects. The average PSQI score fell from 11.15 to 4.54, dropping below the cut-off score of 5 for clinical insomnia“. (Fargason et al. 2013)
  • Doctor James Phelps described a small experiment in his article, in which persons (n=21) suffering from bipolar disorder and sleep complications were given blue blocker glasses for evening usage. Nine test subjects felt their condition improve “very much” while eight people didn’t notice any effect. Also a few felt smaller improvement and also a few were somewhat bothered because of falling asleep too early. (Phelps 2008 ; see also Seth Roberts’ blog post Bipolar Disorder: Good Results with Blue-Blocker Glasses).
  • In New York State a study was conducted in which school children wore blue blocker glasses (with orange lenses) during the day for one school week. This caused their melatonin secretion at evening to begin a half an hour later than normally. (Figueiro&Rea 2010)
  • Bright light treatment seems to be beneficial in the treatment of specific mood disorders, including depression and seasonal affective disorder (Golden et al. 2005Lieverse et al. 2011).

I believe that the effect seen in the bright light study mentioned before could be replicated and possibly surpassed with ordinary daylight. Expensive bright lights shine light at 10 000 lux at the best, but outside the amount of light can be ten times larger. Daylight might also have other benefits like vitamin D production caused by UV-radiation, the temporary lowering of blood pressure caused by nitric oxide metabolism, plus the stress-relieving effects of red and near-infrared light. The problem of course is, that in the winter time natural light isn’t available in large amounts in all parts of the world. (Holick et al. 2007Opländer et al. 2009Feelisch et al. 2010Barrett&Gonzalez-Lima 2013).
Melatonin can also be used as medication and in clinical trials it has been portrayed as quite a useful drug:

  • In one study, melatonin had quite a good effect on irritable bowel syndrome. (Lu et al. 2005)
  • Melatonin supplements might be beneficial to patients suffering from CFS and/or fibromyalgia. The benefits are possibly caused at least in part, by the improvement of subjects’ quality of sleep. Those who used melatonin showed significant improvement in sleep / sleep parameters. (Hussain et al. 2011van Heukelom et al. 2006)
  • According to a recent meta-analysis of melatonin, a slightly higher dose (20mg) seems to be have quite a large effect on conventional cancer treatments. It decreases the mortality rate and reduces treatment side effects significantly. (Wang et al. 2012, see also Mills et al. 2005)

Even though light is very important influence to human / animal circadian rhythm, apparently among light, food, other people and physical activity also have a notable effect. I’m not yet particularly familiar with that data, so it will not be discussed in this essay.

4. Tips for improving sleep and health
Get some light after waking up and during the day

The effect of light on the circadian rhythm seems to be the largest immediately after waking up, so walking outside for ten minutes after waking up can be beneficial.

If you want an adequate amount of blue light during the winter, there are roughly two types of light therapy lamps. Large ones and small ones. The larger lamps have a large lux amount (they are brighter), and the smaller ones compensate with the light spectrum and by a smaller distance between the user and lamp. The lights of small lamps are slightly bluer to compensate for the smaller intensity of light. (Meesters et al. 2011)

I have noticed that if I don’t get enough light during the first 1-2 hours after waking, I’ll stay more or less sleepy for the rest of the day.

Sufficient blue light during the day might be important for alertness, mood and sleep. (Viola et al. 2008)


A light box (left), blue blocker sunglasses (right).

Avoid unnecessary light during the late evening

Turning lamps off and dimming your computer’s display are some of the simplest non-pharmaceutical ways to increase melatonin levels at night. And to make it easier to fall asleep.

If I get a too much light into my eyes at bedtime, I will suddenly become very alert and that means that I need to wait another 1-2 hours until I’ll be able to fall asleep. When I was in high school, this was a significant problem for me. I had to wake up at 7am on almost every morning, yet I usually couldn’t fall asleep before midnight. The late evening, the time when I should have been already sleeping, was the most productive time of the day, because of the strong alerting effect of light at night.

F.lux is a popular computer program that changes the displays color to orangish automatically in the evening. Personally I prefer to use Gamma Panel (gapa.exe), a program that allows you to remove blue light completely from your computer screen.

The blue blocker sunglasses are another alternative. If you want to block out blue light, you can buy some nice lenses from ebay (use keyword “aviator blue blocker”) and wear them in the evenings.

Also red light bulbs (LED) can be used can be used as night reading lamps.

Poor curtains can leave the room too bright during the night or early morning. A sleep mask is an easy and cheap way to correct this problem.

redden computer screen

In the evening, I usually use Gamma Panel software to redden my computer screen. This makes falling asleep much easier.

Nutrition and sleep

A combination of melatonin, magnesium and zinc has been shown to have great results in sleep quality studies. (Rondanelli et al. 2011)

In a few studies, glycine has been shown to improve quality of sleep. The primary source of glycine is collagen protein or gelatin. This means that head cheese and bone broth are a good source of glycine and can improve quality of sleep. I occasionally make jelly out of gelatin and concentrated juice. (Yamadera et al. 2007Inagawa et al. 2006)

I personally agree with the basics of Matt’s “Eat for Heat” ideology. If I have trouble falling asleep, I try to eat some extra starch and fat calories (e.g. rye/wheat bread with butter and cheese) and avoid too large amounts of fluid.
Other ideas

Seth Roberts, a Professor of Psychology, has written a lot about his various experiments, some of which are related to circadian rhythm. (Roberts 2004Seth’s blogPerfect Health Diet – Seth Roberts and Circadian Therapy)

Here’s a list of things that, according to Roberts’ experiments, could benefit those having problems related to their diurnal rhythm.

  • Intake of vitamin D3 might affect one’s circadian rhythm if the doses are high enough. Because of this, Roberts has recommended taking 4000IU (100µg) of vitamin D shortly after waking up. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15)
  • Standing so much that your legs become fatigued might be useful. Roberts noticed consistently high quality of sleep when he stood at least 9 hours during a day. He also noticed that this time can be dramatically reduced by standing on one leg. (1 (p.13-15) ja2)
  • Morning Faces Therapy: According to Roberts, if one sees faces after waking up, he/she will be more sleepy and unmotivated in the evening, but more alert and motivated in the next morning. (1 ja 2 (p. 5-13)

A mirror, to see my own face during my piano improvisations. (Seth Roberts' faces therapy)

A mirror, to see my own face during my piano improvisations. (Seth Roberts’ faces therapy)


Thanks to Laura Mikkonen for doing most of the translating work.

Eat to Dream: Study Shows Dietary Nutrients Associated with Certain Sleep Patterns

April 18th, 2013 Raquel Rothe

Eat to Dream: Study Shows Dietary Nutrients Associated with Certain Sleep Patterns

First Nationally-Representative Analysis Reveals People Who Eat a Varied Diet Have Healthier Sleep Duration

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA — “You are what you eat,” the saying goes, but is what you eat playing a role in how much you sleep? Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of health and well-being. With the increasing prevalence of obesity and its consequences, sleep researchers have begun to explore the factors that predispose individuals to weight gain and ultimately obesity. Now, a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows for the first time that certain nutrients may play an underlying role in short and long sleep duration and that people who report eating a large variety of foods – an indicator of an overall healthy diet – had the healthiest sleep patterns. The new research is published online, ahead-of-print in the journal Appetite.

“Although many of us inherently recognize that there is a relationship between what we eat and how we sleep, there have been very few scientific studies that have explored this connection, especially in a real-world situation,” saidMichael A. Grandner, PhD, instructor in Psychiatry and member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at Penn. “ In general, we know that those who report between 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night are most likely to experience better overall health and well being, so we simply asked the question “Are there differences in the diet of those who report shorter sleep, longer sleep, or standard sleep patterns?”

To answer this question, the research team analyzed data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES includes demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, and health-related questions. The sample for the survey is selected to represent the U.S. population of all ages and demographics. For the current study, researchers used the survey question regarding how much sleep each participant reported getting each night to separate the sample into groups of different sleep patterns. Sleep patterns were broken out as “Very Short’’ (<5 h per night), ‘‘Short’’ (5–6 h per night), ‘‘Standard’ (7–8h per night), and ‘‘Long’’ (9 h or more per night). NHANES participants also sat down with specially trained staff who went over, in great detail, a full day’s dietary intake. This included everything from the occasional glass of water to complete, detailed records of every part of each meal. With this data, the Penn research team analyzed whether each group differed from the 7-8 hour “standard” group on any nutrients and total caloric intake. They also looked at these associations after controlling for overall diet, demographics, socioeconomics, physical activity, obesity, and other factors that could have explained this relationship.

The authors found that total caloric intake varied across groups. Short sleepers consumed the most calories, followed by normal sleepers, followed by very short sleepers, followed by long sleepers. Food variety was highest in normal sleepers, and lowest in very short sleepers. Differences across groups were found for many types of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

In a statistical analysis, the research team found that there were a number of dietary differences, but these were largely driven by a few key nutrients. They found that very short sleep was associated with less intake of tap water, lycopene (found in red- and orange-colored foods), and total carbohydrates, short sleep was associated with less vitamin C, tap water, selenium (found in nuts, meat and shellfish), and more lutein/zeaxanthin (found in green, leafy vegetables), and long sleep was associated with less intake of theobromine (found in chocolate and tea), dodecanoic acid (a saturated fat) choline (found in eggs and fatty meats), total carbohydrates, and more alcohol.

“Overall, people who sleep 7 – 8 hours each night differ in terms of their diet, compared to people who sleep less or more. We also found that short and long sleep are associated with lower food variety,” said Dr. Grandner. “What we still don’t know is if people altered their diets, would they be able to change their overall sleep pattern? This will be an important area to explore going forward as we know that short sleep duration is associated with weight gain and obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Likewise, we know that people who sleep too long also experience negative health consequences. If we can pinpoint the ideal mix of nutrients and calories to promote healthy sleep, the healthcare community has the potential to make a major dent in obesity and other cardiometabolic risk factors.”

Other authors for Penn include Nicholas J. Jackson and Jason R. Gerstner, PhD.
This research was supported grants from National Institutes of Health (T32HL007713, 12SDG9180007 and P30HL101859)

Inadequate sleep can lead to overeating, weight gain in as little as a week: U.S. study

April 12th, 2013 Raquel Rothe

By Elizabeth Foster

Losing a few hours of sleep a night can lead to weight gain, a new study has shown, and effects can be seen after just a week

Losing just a few hours of sleep a night can lead to weight gain, a new study has shown, and effects can be seen after only a week’s worth of bad rest.

The findings, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outline the connection between insufficient sleep and overeating.

Hit the gym or toss & turn: Sleep quality tied by ‘compelling association’ to exercise levels: U.S. experts

On the heels of news that Canada’s adult obesity rates have reached historic highs, a new study offers some extra incentive to hit the gym: a better night’s sleep.

Researchers have discovered a “compelling association” between weekly physical activity and improved sleep quality – including reduced incidences of sleep apnea and insomnia – according to a report released Monday. The relationship is so strong, in fact, they say simply adding 10 minutes of walking to your day is likely to improve your Zs.

“There is a relationship there, and it’s sequentially greater as people exercise more,” said Max Hirshkowitz, an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine and a sleep researcher with more than three decades in the field. “Really, it confirms what should be common sense.”

Researchers from the University of Colorado studied 16 healthy men and women for a two-week period. The subjects’ eating habits, metabolism and sleeping patterns were tracked in a completely controlled environment. By documenting every mouthful of food and wink of sleep, researchers were able to determine that losing just a few hours of sleep for a few nights a week can lead to significant weight gain.

In the study’s first week, half of the subjects were given a nine-hour sleep schedule. The other half were given only five hours of sleep each night. All of the subjects were given unlimited access to food.

In the second week of the study, the subjects’ schedules were flipped. Those that had been getting a full night’s sleep were put on the five-hour schedule and the sleepier subjects were switched to nine-hour nights.

Researchers found that when subjects were sleep-deprived, they ate far more than their well-rested counterparts. At the end of the first week, the subjects getting just five hours of sleep each night had gained an average of two pounds. During the second week of the experiment, the group that was switched from nine hours of sleep to five hours also gained weight.

‘We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they overeat carbohydrates’

Kenneth Wright, the director of the university’s sleep and chronobiology laboratory, told the New York Times that the change in eating habits that takes place when we’re tired is partly attributable to behavioural factors, and partly to biological ones.

“We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they overeat carbohydrates,” he said. “They ate more food [in total], and when they ate food also changed. They ate a smaller breakfast and they ate a lot more after dinner.”

He concludes that the lack of sleep changes subjects’ internal clocks, similar to the effect of jet lag.

“They were awake three hours before their internal nighttime had ended,” Wright said. “Being awakened during their biological night is probably why they ended up eating smaller breakfasts.” That change led to late night snacking, and a 6% overall increase in caloric intake.

Researchers were confident the connection between loss of sleep and weight gain would carry over to the real world, although the results may be less pronounced outside of the experiment’s carefully controlled environment. They said further research is needed to determine the connection between long-term sleep deprivation and weight gain, and especially how a lack of rest can affect our eating habits.

Childhood Obesity and Bedtime Preference

October 28th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

A study published in the October issue of the journal SLEEP from American Academy of Sleep Medicine:


“Scientists have realized in recent years that children who get less sleep tend to do worse on a variety of health outcomes, including the risk of being overweight and obese,” said study co-author Carol Maher, PhD. “[The study] suggests that the timing of sleep is even more important.”

10 States With the Deadliest Eating Habits

February 27th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

10 States With the Deadliest Eating Habits

by Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre and Michael B. Sauter
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

provided by

Americans are fat and getting fatter by the year. Recent data reported in medical journal Lancet showed that BMI (Body Mass Index), a recognized measurement of obesity, is higher on average in America than in any other nation.

The obesity problem, however, is international. The report in Lancet states that “In 2008, 9.8 percent of the world’s male population were obese, as were 13.8 percent of women. In 1980, these rates were 4.8 percent and 7.9 percent.” U.S. eating habits and diets have been exported, many experts say. Nations which before had relatively lean diets which were high in grains and fruits now consume many more soft drinks and hamburgers.

More from 24/7 Wall St.:

Companies Running Out of American Customers

Housing Markets Where Prices Rose During the Recession

The States Running Out of Smart People

This trend toward poorer diets has caused obesity to be the most written-about health problem in the United States. Fat Americans are more likely to have diabetes, coronary artery disease, strokes and certain forms of cancer. Less well reported are links between obesity and dementia, obesity and postmenopausal estrogen receptors, and obesity and social status. Thin people, apparently, are more likely to be chief executives and billionaires. The problem of obesity is so acute that the number of studies about its causes and solutions grows by the day. The journal Health Affairs reported last year that overall obesity-related health spending reached $147 billion in the U.S., about double what it was a decade earlier.

Like so many other issues where data are collected in the public sector and the information is used to solve problems nationwide, the problems are local. 24/7 Wall St. looked at a number of factors which cause unhealthy diets and resulting obesity. These include income, access to healthy food sources, the ability to pay for healthy food, the concentration of fast food outlets, and the consumption of fruits, vegetables, sugar, fat and soft drinks. The levels of healthy eating defined with these parameters varies wildly from state-to-state. That means there is not likely to be any one set of solutions created and funded at the federal level to solve the problem. Just as education results and their causes are hyper-local, so are the habits that cause unhealthy diets and their results. That makes the problem harder to solve. Congress cannot mandate how many McDonald’s can be built within any hundred square mile area, or, if it could, McDonald’s would object.

The data on poor eating habits and obesity are abundant and unusually well-researched. Congress funded a nationwide report which was called “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food — Measuring and Understanding Food Desserts and Their Consequences.” The information contained in this report includes the number of households who do not have access to cars and probably find it difficult to go to grocery stores frequently. The USDA keeps in-depth statistics on concentration of grocery stores. The Census Bureau tracks fast food expenditures per capita. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services follows consumption of fruits and vegetables. 24/7 made its state rankings based on grocery stores per 1,000 residents, amount spent on fast food per capita, gallons of soft drinks purchased per capita and pounds of sweet snacks purchased per capita. We also took into account information provided about poverty levels, obesity and other factors directly related to unhealthy diets.

It is worth mentioning again how complex and local the obesity and eating habit problem is. This does not mean that the problems are insoluble, but nearly so. The issue of fat Americans is one that almost needs to be addressed house-to-house.

10. New Mexico

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.26 (23rd)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $737 (8th most)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 58 (12th least)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 111 (13th least)

New Mexico’s worst rankings occur in two metrics. It has the 44th-greatest percentage of households without a car that are more than 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store and the 44th-greatest percentage of population that has low income and is more than 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store, according to the United States Department of Ag1riculture. These metrics are significant because they suggest a lack of access to affordable and nutritious food. Residents may rely on fast food restaurants and convenience stores instead. New Mexico has the eighth-greatest amount of money spent on fast food per capita among all the states considered.

9. Arizona

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.17 (47th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $761 (4th most)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 60 (21st least)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 109 (11th least)

Arizona has the second-fewest grocery stores per person, with only 0.17 for every 1,000 people. This illustrates a major restriction on healthy food access for one of the country’s fastest growing states. One of the ways in which residents of Arizona are supplementing their diets is with fast food. Arizonans spent an average of $760.50 each on fast food in 2007, the fourth-greatest amount among the states.

8. Ohio

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.18 (45th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $622 (20th least)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 70 (11th most)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 122 (10th most)

Because a large part of Ohio’s poor population is located in major urban centers like Cleveland and Cincinnati, the state ranks well in regards to access to grocery stores among the poor. However, the state ranks third-worst in store availability across all income classes at 0.18 locations per 1,000 people, compared to 0.6 in first place North Dakota. Ohio’s population has the 11th-greatest consumption of soft drinks, and top-10 highest consumption of both sweet snacks and solid fats. As a result of these poor diets, Ohio has an adult diabetes occurrence of over 10%, which is the 11th-worst rate in the country.

7. South Dakota

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.5 (4th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $547 (9th least)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 64 (23rd least)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 122 (8th most)

South Dakota has the fifth-smallest population in the country, and yet, it is the 17th-largest state in terms of geographic area. As a result, many residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. In fact, South Dakota has the greatest percentage of households with no car and which are more than 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store, as well as the greatest percentage of low-income households which are more than 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store. Only 10.1% of adults in South Dakota consume the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommended two or more fruits and three or more vegetables per day, compared to the national average of 14%. This is the fifth-worst rate in the nation.

6. Nevada

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.23 (29th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $939 (most)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 58 (10th least)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 114 (19th least)

Nevada spends the most per capita on fast food — nearly $940 per person per year. This is roughly 25% more than Texas, the second-worst state, and well more than twice what Vermont residents spend. As might be expected, the state ranks in the bottom 10 for both households with no cars and low-income populations, defined as people with income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty thresholds, and proximity to grocery stores. Nevada’s obesity and diabetes rates, are above average.

5. Oklahoma

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.25 (24th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $676 (15th most)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 69.8 (8th most)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 103.2 (3rd least)

The rate of household-level food insecurity, including households with food access problems as well as households that experience disruptions in their food intake patterns due to inadequate resources for food, is 15.2% in Oklahoma. The national rate is 13.5%. Oklahoma also has the third-lowest rate of adults who meet the recommended two fruit/three vegetable daily intake, with only 9.3% of adults doing so. Perhaps this is part of the reason Oklahoma’s obesity rate is 31.4%, the fifth-worst in the country.

4. Kansas

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.35 (7th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $610 (19th least)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 64 (23rd most)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 121 (12th most)

Kansas has some of the easiest access (seventh-best) to stores where cheap and healthy food is available. It is clear, however, that most residents do not take advantage of this, as the state has one of the worst diets in the country. Residents consume the 12th-most sweet snacks per person as well as the 12th-most solid fats — more than 20 pounds per person. The state ranks 28th in adult diabetes and 31st in obesity — 28% of the state’s adults are considered overweight.

3. Missouri

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.26 (22nd)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $623 (21st least)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 65 (18th highest)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 121 (17th most)

Missouri does not rank especially poor in any of the metrics considered, however it does rank badly in about almost every one. It has the 11th-lowest rates of adults eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, the eighth-greatest rate of food insecurity, and relatively high rates of soft drink, sweet snack and solid fats consumption. Missouri has the ninth-worst rate of obesity among adults, with 30% having a body mass index greater than 30.

2. Alabama

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.21 (37th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $649 (23rd most)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 77 (4th most)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 113 (16th least)

Alabama residents consume 77 gallons of soft drinks per capita per year, the fourth-highest amount in the country. This is roughly 33% more than Oregon, which consumes the least. Soft drinks like cola have more sugar per ounce than nearly any other food we regularly consume, and it is clear that soda has helped contribute to Alabama’s poor health outcomes. The state has the seventh-highest obesity rate and, predictably, the second-worst diabetes rate. More than 12% of the state’s adult population has the disease.

1. Mississippi

Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents: 0.21 (34th)
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $588 (17th least)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 82 (most)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 113 (17th least)

Mississippi has the worst eating habits in the country. Only 8.8% of the adult population eats the recommended amount of daily fruits and vegetables, the lowest rate in the country. Residents consumed just under 82 gallons of soft drinks per capita in 2006, the greatest amount reported. Furthermore, the state has the third-highest rate of household-level food insecurity, with 17.1% of households being affected. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the state has the highest rates of both adult diabetes (12.8%) and adult obesity (34.4%).

Learn About Sleep Deprivation and Obesity Explore the Research Surrounding an Unexpected Relationship By Brandon Peters, M.D., About.com Guide

February 22nd, 2011 Raquel Rothe

What is the relationship between sleep deprivation and obesity? More than one-third of American adults are now obese. This epidemic has been worsening over the past several decades. There are a number of contributing factors, including: excessive caloric intake, decreased physical activity, the interaction between genes and environment, and cultural influences. Over this same period of time, Americans have been sleeping less, and some researchers have begun investigating whether sleep deprivation might contribute to obesity.

We sleep as much as one-quarter less than our ancestors did, with average total sleep time decreasing from 9 hours in 1900 to less than 7 hours over the past 10 years. In 2001, researchers found that sleeping less than 6 hours per night and remaining awake past midnight increased the likelihood of obesity. In 2002, a study of 1.1 million people found that increasingbody mass index (BMI) occurred when habitual sleep amounts fell below 7 to 8 hours.

A study done in Virginia in 2005 showed that overweight and obese individuals slept less than subjects of normal weight. Another study in Wisconsin in 2004 showed that when sleeping less than 8 hours, the increase in BMI was proportional to the amount of decreased sleep.

Since 1992, 13 studies of more than 45,000 children have supported the inverse relationship between hours of sleep and risk of obesity. As children sleep less, they are more at risk of becoming obese. In an interesting 2005 study, Reilly reported in the British Medical Journal that short sleep duration at age 30 months predicts obesity at age 7 years, suggesting that poor sleep may have a permanent impact on part of the brain called the hypothalamus that regulates both appetite and energy expenditure.

Laboratory studies tend to support the data from all these population studies. As early as 1999, Spiegel examined sleep restriction and the effect on metabolism by sleep restricting subjects to 4 hours per night for one week. This led to impaired glucose tolerance (a marker of insulin resistance and diabetes) and changes in hormones related to weight gain and hypertension. The changes were reversible with normal sleep times.

In 2004, Spiegel examined the effect of sleep restriction on hormones related to hunger and appetite. It was found that sleep restriction reduced the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite, by 18%. It also increased the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite, by 28%. For comparison, 3 days of underfeeding by 900 calories per day causes leptin to decrease by 22%. Moreover, subjects showed subjectively increased appetite for calorie-dense foods with high carbohydrate content.

How might disruption of the body’s natural clock, called the circadian rhythm, through sleep deprivation affect metabolic hormones that regulate appetite? This is the cutting edge of the current research, and a question that has yet to be answered.


Ogden CL, Carroll MD, McDowell MA, Flegal KM. Obesity among adults in the United States – no change since 2003—2004. NCHS data brief no 1. National Center for Health Statistics

Diet, Exercise and Sleep

July 8th, 2010 admin

For years your mom/dad and your friends go to the gym multiple times a week and they have probably been telling you to eat better and exercise more. It’s all you hear on television, in the newspapers and on talk radio. New doctors and dieticians usher in new diets, new fads, and so you’ve made some lifestyle changes – cutting back on your fat and sweets intake, and doing some cardiovascular exercise a few days a week. Despite all this, you still feel burned out, can’t drop those extra pounds, and don’t have the energy to greet each day with enthusiasm. What are you missing?

The third piece of the puzzle: sleep
Though the exact mechanisms of how sleep works, how sleep rejuvenates the body and mind is still mysterious, one thing sleep specialists and scientists do know is that adequate sleep is necessary for healthy functioning. Research shows that all mammals need sleep, and that sleep regulates mood and is related to learning and memory functions. Not only will getting your zzz’s help you perform on a test, learn a new skill or help you stay on task, but it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight and energy level.

Sleep deprivation may also inhibit one’s ability to lose weight – even while exercising and eating well! A 1999 study at the University of Chicago showed that restricting sleep to just 4 hours per night for a week brought healthy young adults to the point that some had the glucose and insulin characteristics of diabetics. Such sleep restriction may have been a bit extreme, but it is also not altogether uncommon in our society and is a pattern deemed the “royal route to obesity” by Eve Van Cauter, PhD, who conducted the Chicago study.
Food is also related to sleep by appetite and metabolism. Research by Dr. Van Cauter shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase. This link between appetite and sleep provides further evidence that sleep and obesity are linked. To top it off, the psychological manifestations of fatigue, sleep and hunger are similar. Thus, when you’re feeling sleepy you might feel like you need to head for the fridge instead of bed.

What it all means: how diet, sleep and exercise affect you
By now you probably realize that health is complex – if one part of the body system suffers, you’re likely to see consequences in other areas of your life. Though diet and exercise are critical components of healthy lifestyles, it’s also important to remember that sleep is inherently linked with how we eat (and how much), how we exercise (and whether or not we lose weight), and how we function on a daily basis. Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is necessary to face the world with your best foot forward. Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating and good health!

All men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own. ~Plutarch