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Insufficient Sleep May Be Linked With Increased Visceral Fat

The body contains two primary types of fat, subcutaneous fat (which is under the skin) and visceral fat (which is wrapped around the abdominal organs). Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of several health conditions. A recent study suggests that not getting enough sleep may lead to an increase in abdominal visceral fat.

Twelve nonobese adults participated in the study. They participated in a 2 21-day inpatient study periods. They were assigned to sleep restriction (4 hours of sleep per day) or control sleep (9 hours of sleep per day). After a 3-month washout period they switched interventions.

Participants had free choice of food throughout the study. The researchers monitored calorie intake, body weight, body composition, body fat, and energy expenditure.

Participants consumed more than 300 extra calories per day during the sleep restriction period but did not increase energy expenditure. They saw a 9% increase in total abdominal fat and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat during the sleep restriction period.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic. It was published online ahead of print on March 28, 2022 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

In a previous study, getting sufficient sleep was associated with healthier eating habits.

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