Recent research corroborates theories regarding the link between sleep disturbance and a range of conditions, including obesity. In the journal Nature Genetics, a group of scientists recently published evidence from a study that assessed lifestyle and environmental factors, in addition to inherited traits that affect sleep disturbance and duration—ultimately concluding that areas of the genome are linked to sleep disturbance. The team also discovered genetic links between higher levels of excessive sleepiness during the daytime, and increased measures of obesity: including body mass index and waist circumference.
While there have been previously observed connections between sleep disorders and conditions in epidemiological studies, these biological links have never before been identified at a molecular level. Dr. Martin K. Rutherr, clinical senior lecturer in cardiometabolic medicine at University of Manchester and one of the senior authors of the paper, discussed the ways in which this clinical science can help take ‘an important step forward.’
Rates of obesity have risen at alarming rates, and there is a strongly identified correlation between the risk factor of being overweight and a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. As we further understand the biological basis for conditions like obesity, and identify any underlying genetic links, we have the potential to significantly advance treatment development. This research will enable scientists to develop and foster new, innovative ways to intervene regarding conditions like obesity, in a more fundamental way.