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Obesity, Depression Blamed for Daytime Sleepiness 'Epidemic'
Date:6/13/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity has been linked to a host of health problems including heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, and now new research adds excessive daytime sleepiness to this list.

Well-publicized risks associated with excessive daytime sleepiness among adults include accidents caused by drowsy driving and workplace injuries.

The new, related studies found that the main drivers of daytime sleepiness are obesity and depression. The findings are scheduled to be presented Wednesday at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting, in Boston.

"The 'epidemic' of sleepiness parallels an 'epidemic' of obesity and psychosocial stress," study author Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas, of Penn State Hershey Sleep Research & Treatment Center, said in a meeting news release. "Weight loss, depression and sleep disorders should be our priorities in terms of preventing the medical complications and public safety hazards associated with this excessive sleepiness."

Two studies included the same group of 1,741 adults. Of these, 1,173 did not have excessive daytime sleepiness when the study began and 222 did. Depression and obesity were the main risk factors for "new-onset" excessive sleepiness after 7.5 years of follow-up. Weight gain was the top predictor for persistent daytime sleepiness during the same time frame. The rate of new-onset excessive sleepiness was 8 percent, and the rate of persistent daytime sleepiness was 38 percent When sleepy individuals lost weight, they were less tired during the day.

The findings in the first two studies were backed by a study of 103 healthy volunteers, which took place over four nights in a sleep laboratory. It also pointed to obesity and depression as risks for sleepiness, the researchers report.

Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C., sai
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