Artificial light increases the risk of obesity in women
You probably know that lifestyle, diet, and exercise all affect a person's weight. However, the researchers have determined that another factor that affects weight as much is artificial light from electric lights or televisions.
The dangers of obesity
Obesity is increasingly common worldwide. Worldwide obesity rates have tripled since the 1970s. In the US, an estimated 70% of the population is overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has many negative effects on health. For example, obesity can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, even some cancers, and neurological problems.
Artificial light affects weight
A study published on the JAMA Internal Medicine was conducted to test whether exposure to artificial light during sleep affects weight. The study consisted of 43,722 women divided into 4 groups:
- The group sleeping in a room without light
- The group sleeping in a room with soft light from a night light
- The group sleeping in a room with light from outside
- The group sleeping in room with light from a TV
The scientists gathered detailed information about a woman's weight, height, hip and waist measurements before starting. The researchers also considered factors that interfere with possible outcomes such as inadequate sleep, diet, and physical activity.
The researchers observed women who participated in the experiment for about 4.7 years. After analyzing the data, they determined the correlation between the level of artificial light exposure and the health outcomes of participants.
The results showed that the more artificial light a woman sleeps in, the higher her body mass index (BMI) and waist/hip ratio are. Not only that, her sleep time is shorter and her physical activity and eating quality are also significantly lower. In particular, the group of women who turn on the television or lights in the room is at risk of gaining 5 kg or more compared to women who sleep in a light-free environment. The risk of an increase in their BMI by 10% is higher than 18%. Besides, they also have a higher risk of being overweight or obese, respectively 22% and 33%.
The study may still have some drawbacks because sleeping in a room with artificial lighting is self-reported by women involved and may not be accurate. But the research is still solid evidence that you shouldn't turn on a light or television while you sleep.
It is difficult to keep the bedroom completely without artificial lighting when you live in an environment with too many electronics or electric lights. However, you can still limit this type of light and protect your sleep by not leaving the TV in the bedroom, turning off your phone at night or closing curtains at night. These habits not only help you sleep better, but also prevent the risk of obesity.
By: Gitta Russell