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Unhealthy food makes teenagers sleep worse – study

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Scientists from Australia have concluded that frequent consumption of fast food and soda can dramatically reduce the quality of sleep in adolescents around the world.

Studies have shown that lack of sleep and poor sleep quality are associated with depression, anxiety and aggression among adolescents. Sleep problems affect academic performance, immunity and even increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, obesity, drug abuse and alcohol abuse.

Scientists from the University of Queensland, Australia, conducted the first and largest study on the relationship between food and sleep in middle and high school children. To do this, they analyzed data from the Global Schoolchildren Health Survey, which was conducted with 175,261 children in 64 countries. The average age was 13.8 years (the survey was conducted among persons 12-15 years olds), 48.5 percent were girls. Teens reported sleep disturbances and their meals.

The researchers found that 7.5 percent of children had trouble sleeping during the year. Moreover, there were more girls – 8.4 percent, while boys – 6.6 percent. A meta-analysis showed that drinking carbonated soft drinks three or more times a day increased the likelihood of poor quality sleep by 50 percent, compared with those who drank such drinks less than once daily.

Adolescent boys who ate fast food four or more times a week had 55 percent more sleep problems than their peers who ate one or less of these meals in seven days. For girls, the risk of unhealthy sleep increased by 49%.

These patterns turned out to be true for all countries except the third world. In the most developed countries, the correlation between sleep disturbance and consumption of carbonated drinks was especially strong.

According to scientists, since sleep problems are generally more common in girls, they should be the priority group for programs to combat the negative effects of junk food. At the same time, restrictions on sales of fast food and soda drinks, the researchers believe, should be carried out at the level of state policy.

The work is published in the journal EclinicalMedicine.

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