Is My TV Causing Me to Gain Weight?

A high calorie diet and physical inactivity are the most common explanations for obesity. Recent evidenced cites that exposure to light at night while you sleep may increase the risk for obesity. Previous animal research has found that light exposure can have direct effects on melatonin signaling, sleep disruption, and circadian rhythms. These can all lead to weight gain and obesity. 

Researchers looked at the effects of artificial light exposure at night on obesity in women. They found that women with greater exposure to light at night had higher mean BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist-to-height ration. Women with greater exposure to light at night were also less likely to have good sleep hygiene and more likely to have poor sleep quality. 

Compared to those with no light at night, sleeping with a TV or light on in the room was associated with a BMI of at least 25 or 30. Exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping was significantly associated with an increased risk of weight gain and the development of obesity. Additionally, TV or light in the room was positively associated with gaining 11 lbs. or more and the development of overweight and obesity. 

This study highlights the link between obesity and sleeping with a light or TV on in the room. The researchers note that decreasing artificial light at night exposure may serve as a useful intervention for obesity prevention. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to sleep hygiene and overall health and well-being. We can assist by providing support for improving sleep quality and adhering to living a healthy lifestyle. 

By Matt Lewandowski 

Sources: Park, Y-M., White, A., Jackson, C., et al. (2019). Association of exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping with risk of obesity in women. Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine, published online June 10, 2019. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0571. Photo by John Soo on Unsplash