Frequent consumption of sugary sodas and junk food has been linked to poor sleep quality, according to a new study of over 175,000 adolescents.

Eat badly or sleep well, you have to choose. In a new study, published on December 21 in the journal EClinical Medicine, researchers from the University of Queensland (Australia) report having observed an association between regular consumption of junk food in adolescents and poor quality of sleep.

“This is the first study to examine unhealthy diets and stress-related sleep disorders globally among high school students in 64 countries,” said Dr. Asaduzzaman Khan, Senior author of the study.

The data was collected from surveys conducted by the World Health Organization between 2009 and 2016. These covered 175,261 adolescents aged 12 to 15 in 64 low, middle and high income countries. Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Overall, 7.5% of teens reported trouble sleeping in the past 12 months. Adolescents who drank sugary soft drinks 3 times a day were more than 50% likely to report trouble sleeping than those who drank less than once a day. As for junk food, consuming it four or more times per week was associated with a 50-55% higher risk of disturbed sleep compared to consuming junk food once a week or less.  

“Sleep disturbances have increased with the more frequent consumption of soft drinks, which often contain caffeine, and / or fast food, foods that are traditionally high in energy and low in nutrients. Frequent consumption of soft drinks more than three times a day, and fast food more than four days a week, were significantly associated with sleep disturbances in all countries except low-income [countries] ”, wrote the researchers. 

For Dr. Khan, although they only state a correlation, these results are all the more concerning as poor quality sleep has a negative impact on the general well-being of adolescents and on their cognitive development. .

“Creating school environments that limit access to soft drinks and fast food, and introducing a sugar tax to reduce sales of soft drinks could be beneficial,” suggests the researcher. “The family can also play a decisive role in the promotion of healthy eating, because the adoption and maintenance of children's eating behaviors are influenced by their family environment”, he also recalls.  

 Source : MedicalXpress