Less snoozing, more excess kilos: in today’s busy world, how do we sleep more?

New research shows more evidence that our busy lifestyles are contributing to our expanding waistlines.

Research by Sweden’s Uppsala University researchers published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, uncovered a specific brain region that contributes to a person’s appetite and is more active when sleep deprived.

Researchers Christian Benedict, Samantha Brooks, Helgi Schiöth and Elna-Marie Larsson from Uppsala University and researchers from other European universities were able to systematically examine which regions in the brain that control appetite suppression are influenced by sleep loss.

And it’s not just extreme sleep loss that can impact the brain’s functions, a person only needs to be acutely sleep deprived to suffer the consequences.

In the story, 12 average-weight males were shown images of food, and the researchers assessed their brain function using magnetic imaging.

The study was performed when the subjects had experienced a normal night’s sleep and then compared to those when they had a sleepless night.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat,” Christian Benedict said.

“Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run.”

One in three Australians are overweight and one in four is obese, so finding the reasons behind the obesity epidemic have become a massive national focus.

Crash diets, sedentary lifestyles and an overwhelming availability of processed foods have been blamed for the health epidemic that could see the current generation of children being the first to not outlive their parents and earned it the title of "the new smoking."

The health impacts of obesity and related conditions have become more well known throughout the country, and in a bid to further educate society, kilojoule information on fast food menus will become mandatory in July this year, while the federal government will develop a simple, front of pack nutritional labelling system for all packaged foods sold in Australia within a year.

This week is also Healthy Weight Week, an initiative launched by the Dieticians Association of Australia aiming to encourage everyone to be aware of their healthy weight range and implement lifestyle changes to achieve it.

With the cost of living continuing to sky-rocket, nobody could possibly afford to simply walk away from a career to catch up on sleep, so what is the solution for busy Australians losing sleep and gaining kilos?

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