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Sleep quality

Abdominal fat reduction improves sleep quality

Abdominal fat reductionkey to improvements in sleep quality
Dr Kerry Stewart

Weight loss from dietary changes alone or from diet combined with exercise, can help improve the quality of sleep among people who are overweight or obese, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. The researchers noted that a reduction in abdominal fat was a key factor in improving sleep quality.

"We found that improvement in sleep quality was significantly associated with overall weight loss," said Dr Kerry Stewart, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study.

In the study, “Predictors of Sleep Quality Improvement Among Overweight or Obese Individuals: A Randomized Controlled Trial”, the researchers enrolled 77 people who had type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The participants, all of whom also were overweight or obese, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group went on a weight-loss diet and had supervised exercise training, while the other group only had the diet intervention. A total of 55 participants completed all phases of the study.

The participants filled out the Hopkins Sleep Survey at the beginning and end of the study to identify sleep problems, including sleep apnoea, daytime fatigue, insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleep or sleepiness and use of sedatives to aid sleep. Their BMI and amount of abdominal fat were also measured at the start and end of the study.

Both groups lost approximately 15lbs (7kgs) on average and about 15% of their abdominal fat, which was assessed by magnetic resonance imaging.

Although a variety of sleep problems were reported by the participants, none stood out as being the most common, so the researchers analysed a composite score, which reflects overall sleep health. They discovered that both groups improved their overall sleep score by about 20% with no differences between the groups.

"The key ingredient for improved sleep quality from our study was a reduction in overall body fat, and, in particular abdominal fat, which was true no matter the age or gender of the participants or whether the weight loss came from diet alone or diet plus exercise,” said Stewart.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.


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