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Original document was submitted as an honors thesis requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Obesity has become a major health problem with increasing prevalence and is related to multiple medical consequences, such as increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer (Hasler et al., 2004). Due to the limited availability of effective treatment of weight problems, it is necessary to identify potential risk factors for obesity. One factor that has received increased attention is chronic partial sleep deprivation (<7 hours of sleep a night). The decrease in average sleep duration over the past three to four decades has occurred simultaneously with the increase in the prevalence of obesity. Chronic partial sleep deprivation could be a possible risk factor for obesity, but current understanding of the processes linking sleep deprivation to obesity is incomplete. The research will focus on examining the possible pathways through which partial sleep deprivation contributes to the development of obesity: alterations in metabolic pathways and waking behavior, including eating behavior and physical inactivity. The hypothesis behind the proposed study is that increasing sleep duration in obese individuals who experience partial sleep deprivation will lead to a decreased BMI. Research addressing the possible pathways and targeting the amount of sleep will benefit individuals in preventing and/or treating obesity.