Obesity and Diabetes Caused By Lifestyle

This study analyzed the effect of certain lifestyle factors that contribute to obesity and diabetes, namely lack of sleep, surrounding temperature, television viewing, amount of time spent eating out, the use of air-conditioners and antidepressants. During the six-year follow-up period, higher waist measurements, more fat consumption in restaurant meals and higher indoor temperatures were recorded for subjects who were obese and had high blood sugar. The same set of people recorded lower fiber content in their diet, less sleeping hours and slower body functions.

Present day trends of obesity and diabetes are alarming. The known causes are changes in eating habits and decreased physical exercise. Researchers are trying to find other criteria in order to effectively address this health issue. Lack of sleep, coupled with higher calorie intake from restaurant meals is prevalent. Another environmental contributor, which could reduce metabolic rate and therefore cause weight gain, is indoor heating in cool seasons and the use of air-conditioners in warm seasons. Younger people, who are subject to severe psychological stress, resort to taking antidepressants or antipsychotics. This could contribute to diabetes and obesity. Television watching, a major reason for inactivity, could also be a factor.

* Physical examinations for measurements of weight, height, waist and blood pressure were carried out for 1,658 middle-aged Caucasian patients, along with an estimation of fasting blood sugar values.
* Information on sleep and diet patterns, physical activity, restaurant visits, house temperature and television viewing was gathered from questionnaires during screening and verified by a dietician unassociated with the study.
* Further data was collected at follow-up visits and analyzed statistically.

* Nearly 8 percent of the subjects had become obese during the study and 17.8 percent had developed hyperglycemia. Subjects who developed hyperglycemia were more likely to be male.
* The trend of contributing factors was similar for both obesity and hyperglycemia.
* There were higher readings for waistline, body mass index, fat consumption, indoor temperature, and a higher frequency of eating out, television watching and use of anti-depressants.
* The subjects showed lower exercise frequency, routine physical functions, lower fiber consumption and getting less sleep.

Next steps/Shortcomings
Individuals reporting their own data can be subjective and can lead to data errors and bias.  The socioeconomic conditions of participants could have also added to the bias. Applying study results to a larger population is difficult because this study included only middle-aged people from rural areas with low levels of education. There was not enough data to analyze the risk of using antidepressants because not many people used these drugs. The smaller number of participants regularly dining at restaurants prevented an analysis of risk differences according to restaurant type.

The study examined the feasibility of treating obesity and diabetes with lifestyle changes outside clinics and without medicine. Frequent restaurant dining, reduced sleep and elevated house temperature were found to have more impact on the onset of obesity and hyperglycemia than television watching, use of anti-depressants and air-conditioning. Sleep deficit leads to fat accumulation because of reduced glucose processing. Research has shown that cold environments support the underlying fat tissue function of burning calories rather than storing them. However, heat reduces the urge to eat. Air-conditioning results in less energy expenditure, in terms of exercise. Low fiber consumption increases the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. Restaurant food is calorie-dense with high levels of fat and sugar and with an unknown amount of calories. Furthermore, watching television, decreased exercise and poor diet patterns have a connection with an increased incidence of obesity and diabetes.

For More Information:
Contributors to the Obesity and Diabetes Epidemics: A Prospective Study in a Population-Based Cohort
Publication Journal: International Journal of Obesity, February 2011
By S. Bo; G. Ciccone; University of Turin, Italy

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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