Less sleep, more calories? Study looks at ‘distracted’ eating, drinking

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Birmingham, AL – People who skip sleep in favor of watching TV may find themselves eating and drinking more – possibly putting them at risk of obesity, according to a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Researchers used data from the American Time Use Survey to examine sleep duration and time spent on “primary” and “secondary” eating and drinking among 28,150 American adults during a two-year period. Secondary eating and drinking were defined as eating or drinking beverages other than water while doing something else, such as watching TV.

They found that people who slept less than seven hours spent almost nine minutes more per day on secondary eating than those who got “normal sleep” of seven or eight hours, according to a university press release. They also spent an additional 31 minutes per day on secondary drinking on weekends and an additional 29 minutes per day during the week.

Researchers said the results of the study potentially suggest “a pathway from short sleep to increased caloric intake in the form of beverages and distracted eating and thus potential increased obesity risk,” but stressed that more research is needed.

The study was published online in November in the American Journal of Health Promotion.