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Sleeping late identified as key cause of obesity in working class
Taipei, May 1 (CNA) With government data indicating nearly 40 percent of working people in Taiwan are overweight, a medical practitioner said on Monday that eight out of 10 of her patients being treated for obesity developed the condition from an irregular daily routine and going to sleep late.
Family medicine doctor Lee Chia-chi told CNA that irregular routines and work related stress not only disturb the metabolism, endocrine and autonomic nerve systems, but also cause obesity, hair loss, high blood pressure and constipation.
With some female patients, their periods also become more erratic, Lee said, noting that eight out of 10 of her obese patients have a habit of going to bed at a late hour, which is usually defined as 11 p.m. or later.
Once people develop such a habit, their metabolic functions decline. If that deterioration continues, "patients more easily put on weight" whenever they feel pressure, Lee said.
The worst case scenario is when people have to work overtime, forcing them to go to sleep late. The result can be a vicious circle because without enough sleep individuals work less efficiently, which means they have to work longer to finish their work, Lee added.
Taking one of her patients as an example, she said the weight of the male patient in his 30s shot up from 120 kilograms to 160kg in two years after he started working late night shifts in the logistics sector.
The patient lived an "upside down lifestyle," in which he sometimes ate breakfast at 2 p.m. or his first meal of the day at midnight, Lee said.
Following her advice, the man successfully adjusted his lifestyle, which enabled him to sleep before 11 p.m. He also started cycling on his days off, Lee said, noting that the patient's weight not only fell to 115 kg, but his fatty liver also improved.
Lee suggests people should go to bed before 11 p.m., refrain from sleeping for longer than eight hours, eat breakfast, set a regular dining schedule and finish dinner four hours before bedtime.
"This approach resolves almost 80 percent of health problems," she said.
According to a 2013-2014 survey conducted by the Health Promotion Administration in Taiwan, the level of obesity among adults nationwide was 43 percent, with 48.9 percent for men and 38.3 percent for women.
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