Over a 10-year period from 1996, the prevalence of obesity among Malaysian adults has escalated by a staggering 250%. That has put us on the top spot where we are the first among Asean countries with the highest number of obese adults. When ranked among Asian Pacific countries, we are in the sixth! That’s not something to be proud of. This is worrying as the number has more than tripled over a decade, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006, from 4% in 1996 to 14% in 2006.
Among the many contributing factors, the one that is often overlooked is lack of sleep. Sleep time is often sacrificed when we are too caught up in trying to balance work, family and recreation. According to the Philips Index for Health and Well-being: A Global Perspective Report 2010 which was published last November, among the 800 Malaysian adults who were interviewed, 81% of them said that they did not get enough sleep at night.
We are faced with two parallel trends which is increasing in body mass index (BMI) and decreasing sleep hours. It is no coincidence as many studies have shown the correlation between the two. Study after study shows that lack of sleep (less than seven to nine hours of uninterrupted slumber) is making us pile on the pounds.
A recent research from Uppsala University shows that acute sleep loss (one hour sleep lost than the usual one night of normal sleep) influences the brain region which controls our appetite sensation thus increasing the desire to eat. In modern society where insufficient sleep is a growing problem, this somewhat explains how poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk of gaining weight in the long run.
So, reboot and rejuvenate. Get at least seven and eight hours of sleep each night to maintain good health and most importantly to combat obesity. Remember though, napping does not count as it cannot be substitute for nighttime sleep to prevent obesity.
Ref. Malaysians Dietitians’ Association