It can also increase likelihood of high blood pressure and high cholesterol

  • Napping for more than 30 minutes at a time can raise the risk of diabetes, according to a new study
  • It can also increase likelihood of high blood pressure and high cholesterol

Pat Hagan

19:04 EST, 20 September 2013


19:14 EST, 20 September 2013

They were much favoured by Margaret Thatcher, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.

But while afternoon naps may revitalise tired brains, they can also increase the risk of diabetes, according to new research.

A study of more than 27,000 people in China – where taking a post-lunch snooze is very popular – shows napping for more than 30 minutes at a time can raise the chances of developing type two diabetes.

Researchers found men and women taking 40 winks were also more likely to have high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels compared to those who stayed awake through the day.

Napping for more than 30 minutes at a time can raise the chances of developing type two diabetes, according to a new study

Napping for more than 30 minutes at a time can raise the chances of developing type two diabetes, according to a new study

The findings, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, are in contrast to those from other recent studies, which found daytime sleeps could boost brain power and slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than a third.

The researchers said it’s the duration of the nap that counts. Those dozing for half an hour or more were more likely to have the early signs of diabetes than those who snoozed for less time or not at all.

In 2009, a planned UK National Siesta Day was cancelled when similar research from China found a 26 per cent increase in diabetes risk among those regularly getting their heads down in the afternoon.

Diabetes affects an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK. Around ten per cent of cases are due to type one, which is thought to be caused by a malfunctioning immune system and has nothing to do with diet.

Diabetes affects an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK. Above, a woman tests her blood sugar (file pic)

Diabetes affects an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK, with around ten per cent of cases due to a malfunctioning immune system. Above, a woman tests her blood sugar (file pic)

But the remaining 90 per cent are type two, closely linked to unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

The body loses its ability to make use of glucose, a type of sugar that is released when we eat food and turned into a source of energy for use by muscles.

As glucose levels rise, circulation starts to suffer and blood vessels in areas such as the heart, the legs and the eyes can be irreparably damaged.

In the latest study, researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China studied 27,009 men and women aged 45 or over.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was famously known for napping

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was famously known for napping

Almost 70 per cent of the volunteers said they regularly took a nap in the afternoon.

Researchers checked their health by carrying out a test called impaired fasting plasma glucose.

This measures whether sugar in the blood is too high and acts as an early warning sign that type two diabetes is setting in.

Researchers also looked to see which volunteers were in the early stages of the disease.

They found glucose readings were much higher among those who favoured a daytime sleep.

Forty per cent of them also had high blood pressure, compared to just 33 per cent of non-nappers, and 24 per cent had high cholesterol, versus 19 per cent.

One reason a siesta may be harmful is it simply means less exercise is being undertaken, the researchers said.

But it could also be that it disrupts the body’s internal clock and exposes organs to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

In a report on their findings the researchers said: ‘Napping in the elderly can be beneficial for daytime functioning, as well as for mental health.

‘But there is accumulating evidence showing it may also be a risk factor for morbidity and mortality.’
Dr Matthew Hobbs, head of research for Diabetes UK, said there was no proof that napping actually caused diabetes.

He said: ‘The bottom line is that the best way to reduce your risk of type two diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet and by being regularly physically active.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

My dad and grandfather took a nap every day. Neither one ever had health problems. This study sounds like it was staged.


tucson, United States,
21/9/2013 03:01

Where do you people get these study ideas? Is there anything you are not studying? If we believe all these studies we will find that everything we do is bad for us and everything we do not do is what is good for us. The egg is bad, no the egg is good, napping of all things being deadly is the last straw. How come sleeping at night doesn’t kill us too? Oh wait, we snore!


Windham, United States,
21/9/2013 03:00

What a load of cobblers if was good enough for Maggie,Albert and Winnie then it is good enough for me,i love my afternoon naps.I am retired and no i do not have diabetes,high blood pressure or high cholesterol but i do exercise a lot.


21/9/2013 02:59

Correlation does not equal causation. Likely,the people who take naps are less fit, less healthy and take naps because of these health issues.


21/9/2013 02:57

I think you’ll find you have ’cause’ and ‘effect ‘ the wrong way round here……

NHS Nightmare

Huddersfield, United Kingdom,
21/9/2013 02:49

nooooo….I like having a nap


21/9/2013 02:37

I guess that I am okay, as I have never taken a nap in my life. I can only sleep in a bed at night, however tired I might be.


21/9/2013 02:35

Maybe they are already ill and need to nap because of this not the other way around.

Mrs Runner5k

21/9/2013 02:30

Or do people who have a nap are more likely to to have diabetes?


ST Louis Missouri, United States,
21/9/2013 02:15

Does the nap cause the diseases, or do they nap because they already have early signs of the diseases?


21/9/2013 02:11

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Diseasification of Obesity


Bathroom scale with faces instead of numbers


In a thoughtful, measured and well-reasoned blog post in these pages, Dr. Keith Ayoob recently discussed the AMA’s decision to classify obesity as a “disease.” As he concluded his post, Dr. Ayoob wrote: “I don’t care how obesity is categorized. I care about what’s being done about it…. We need to stop talking about whether obesity is or is not a disease and start talking about preventing it altogether.” This got me thinking: does the process of “diseasification” hold any promise at all in obesity? And are there downsides to this approach that should cause us concern?

“Diseasification” is a funny and not entirely real word, but I didn’t make it up. Sure, if you look for it in an online dictionary, you won’t find it—but if you Google it, you’ll find over 6,000 hits. Most seem to focus on one of the most problematic aspects of diseasification: that of classifying all sorts of mental states and psychological issues as diseases, a tendency that has arguably contributed to our nation’s overreliance on pharmacology to ease the vicissitudes of daily living. But some of these Google hits refer to issues in prevention, including obesity. While I didn’t coin the term, I think its meaning is self-evident: labeling as a “disease” a condition that is typically not so construed. Clearly, the AMA’s action would fit under this intuitive definition.

Of course, this begs the question: what is a “disease”? A typical definition of disease provides guidance, if not absolute clarity: “any deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any body part, organ or system that is manifested by a characteristic set of symptoms and signs and whose etiology, pathology and prognosis may be known or unknown.” In holding obesity up to this standard, its appropriateness could hinge on whether a body with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 would be considered a “normal structure”; this in turn depends on how we define “normal.” Ironically, if we refer to a standard statistical concept of outliers—usually, the most extreme 5 percent or so of a population—then the more widespread our so-called national obesity epidemic, the more “normal” obesity becomes. Currently, more than a third of the entire U.S. population is obese; in certain states and in some ethnic/racial groups, the proportion is closer to half. Clearly, these are not “outliers.”

But I think the annals of preventive medicine have demonstrated that diseasification has its place. Let us look at a reasonably successful story of diseasification: that of hypertension. Some readers might be surprised that I’m considering this “diseasification”: after all, isn’t hypertension clearly a disease? Well, no, it’s not. There are no symptoms, illnesses or dysfunctions related to hypertension per se. Hypertension refers to an elevated blood pressure, where “elevated” was established in a discretionary (though certainly not arbitrary) manner. Coincidentally, about a third of all Americans fit the definition of people with hypertension, so these are also not “outliers” in the traditional sense. But what we do know is that high blood pressure is a major, modifiable risk factor for things that are diseases—important ones, such cardiovascular diseases, of stroke and heart attack. Moreover, we know that pharmacological efforts to lower blood pressure below established cutpoints leads to a reduction in the risk of such diseases. So diseasifying hypertension has led to helpful treatments and to a reduction in disease outcomes.

Obesity, however, is a wholly different animal. First, while obesity has been shown to be a risk factor for certain diseases—indeed, many of the same diseases predicted by high blood pressure—its association with those diseases is neither so strong nor so direct as that with hypertension. Moreover, healthcare practitioners do not have the sorts of treatments in their toolkits to treat obesity that they do for high blood pressure, and even more significantly, there is no direct evidence that using treatments to lower BMI will in turn reduce the risk of the real diseases that are associated with obesity—the ones we really care about. Thus, the presumed “upsides” of this new AMA-endorsed classification are hard to imagine. Given the lack of effective and proven therapies, what benefit do we seek? Prevention, as Dr. Ayoob indicated, is key—but our rapidly exploding national obesity prevalence isn’t caused by lack of adequate medical care; rather, it is due to wholesale changes in diet and lifestyle, largely promoted by corporate marketing, governmental policies, new technologies and changing norms of behavior. These are amenable (alas, not easily) to public health interventions and policy change, but not to increased doctor visits.

An open question is: if this relabeling of obesity has an impact on the stigmatization of the overweight, will it be for good or ill? On the good side, perhaps, is recognizing that it isn’t necessarily a sign of sloth or weakness of will, but something that may be beyond volitional control, much as classification as disease may have improved the situation for alcoholics or substance abusers. On the other side—do we really want to equate obesity with such things? I think we ought to heed lessons from the fat acceptance movement, and consider that the overweight seem to be the last social group that it is deemed acceptable to malign. Certainly, there are many fat people comfortable in their own bodies; do we really want to say to them, “Sorry, it doesn’t matter what you think, you’re sick”? Not a necessary corollary of diseasification, I think, but a cause for concern.

Paul Marantz, M.D., M.P.H.

Obese States: The Highest And Lowest Rates Of Obesity, By State

The obesity rate in the United States is, on a whole, staying steady, according to a new Gallup-Healthways report.

The report shows that the obesity rate was 26.2 percent in 2012, which is about the same as the 26.1 percent rate in 2011.

State obesity rates have also largely remained unchanged, with only three states experiencing an increase in obesity — New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia — and one state actually experiencing a decrease in obesity — Delaware.

Of all the states, Colorado had the lowest obesity rate at 18.7 percent. Meanwhile, West Virginia had the highest obesity rate at 33.5 percent.

The report, which is based on telephone interviews from 353,564 U.S. adults conducted between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 last year, also examined rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in the United States. Researchers found that the rate of high blood pressure was sightly lower from 2011 to 2012 — 30 percent to 29.3 percent — but state high blood pressure rates largely didn’t waver, with the exception of declining hypertension rates in Pennsylvania and Washington.

Eleven percent of people surveyed reported having diabetes, which is the same amount as 2011, researchers noted. Unsurprisingly, states with the highest high blood pressure and obesity rates were also the ones with the highest diabetes rates.

For a look at the most and least obese states according to the new report, click through the slideshow:

Loading Slideshow

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 1. Colorado

    The report found that 18.7 percent of Colorado residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 2. Massachusetts

    The report found that 21.5 percent of Massachusetts residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 3. Montana

    The report found that 22.0 percent of Montana residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 4. Connecticut

    The report found that 22.7 percent of Connecticut residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 5. California

    The report found that 23.1 percent of California residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 6. Utah

    The report found that 23.9 percent of Utah residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 7. Arizona

    The report found that 24.1 percent of Arizona residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 8. Rhode Island

    The report found that 24.3 percent of Rhode Island residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 9. Idaho (Tie)

    The report found that 24.4 percent of Idaho residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 9. New Jersey (Tie)

    The report found that 24.4 percent of New Jersey residents are obese.

  • Lowest Obesity Rates: 9. Washington (Tie)

    The report found that 24.4 percent of Washington residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 1. West Virginia

    The report found that 33.5 percent of West Virginia residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 2. Mississippi

    The report shows 32.2 percent of Mississippi residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 3. Arkansas

    The report found that 31.4 percent of Arkansas residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 4. Louisiana

    The report shows 30.9 percent of Louisiana residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 5. Alabama

    The report found that 30.4 percent of Alabama residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 6. Kentucky

    The report found that 29.7 percent of Kentucky residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 7. Tennessee

    The report found that 29.6 percent of Tennessee residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 8. Ohio

    The report found that 29.5 percent of Ohio residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 9. Oklahoma

    The report found that 29.2 percent of Oklahoma residents are obese.

  • Highest Obesity Rates: 10. Iowa

    The report found that 29.0 percent of Iowa residents are obese.

  • New Report on Health Rankings Show Obesity and Diabetes at High Levels

    A new report on the health of our nation shows obesity, diabetes and smoking are still at high levels.

Blood pressure found to be higher in urban dwellers

A link has been found between pollution in urban areas and raised blood pressure. Researchers from the University of Dusiburg-Essen in Germany analysed data from 5,000 people all taking part in the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, which focuses on the development of heart disease.

The findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society, showed that city dwellers were more likely to suffer from increased blood pressure. Pollution was said to be responsible.

“Both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are higher in people who live in more polluted areas, even if we take important factors that also influence blood pressure like age, gender, smoking, weight, etc. into account. Blood pressure increases were stronger in women than in men,” said researcher Dr. Hoffman.

High levels of pollution have been linked to increased blood pressure in a new study

“It is therefore necessary to further our attempts to prevent chronic exposure to high air pollution as much as possible,” he added.

The BBC spoke to Judy O’Sullivan, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, who suggested that more research was needed into the matter.

“We know there’s a link between air pollution and heart and circulatory disease but we don’t yet fully understand its exact nature.“

Images: Wikimedia Commons and David Barrie on Flikr