Health Buzz: Full Night's Rest Can't Erase Sleep Debt

How to shed dangerous belly fat; parents are often clueless about teen suicide risks.

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Study Suggests Full Night's Sleep Won't Help Chronically Sleep-Deprived

Don't expect to recoup hours of missed sleep with a full night's rest, a new study suggests. Many nights of restlessness can lead to sleep debt, researchers say, and that can hamper your work performance, HealthDay reports. Study author and neurologist Daniel Cohen characterizes the chronically sleep-deprived as those who get less than six hours each night for a period of two weeks. His team mimicked the condition in a group of nine healthy participants. Over time, the researchers found that participants' focus dwindled—even if they had slept for 10 hours the previous night. Cohen tells HealthDay the team did not learn how many nights of rest it would take to catch up on lost sleep. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

[Slide Show: 10 Ways to Get Better Sleep (and Maybe Cure Your Insomnia).] [Read 7 Things That Make Sleep Apnea Worse and When Sleep Problems Become Legal Problems, Neuroscience Can Help.]

Obesity Rates May Be Leveling Off—but How to Shed That Fat?

Americans are fatter than we've ever been, but at least the prevalence of obesity appears to be leveling off. That's the finding of a new study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that if obesity rates had continued to rise as rapidly as they'd been going up since the late 1980s, an increase of 6 to 7 percentage points would have been expected for men and women between 1999 and 2009, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports.

Instead, rates increased by less than 5 percent in men and didn't appear to increase much at all in women. "The data presented in our current study…suggest that the prevalence may have entered another period of relative stability," write the study authors, who are from the National Center for Health Statistics.

That's good news, Kotz writes, but the rates are still shocking. About one third of Americans are obese, and another third are overweight. While the health risks of being, say, 50 pounds or more above a healthy weight remain undisputed, carrying around a few extra pounds isn't necessarily harmful. A growing body of evidence suggests it's where you carry your weight that determines your health risks. Read more.

[Read With Obesity Rates Leveling Off, Banish the Belly Fat for Good and Should You Strive for Thin Thighs? Maybe Not.]

Teen Suicide Risk Factors: Parents Are Too Often Clueless

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers, and it's a tragedy that can be prevented. Given that almost 15 percent of high school students say they've seriously considered suicide in the past year, parents and friends need to know how to recognize when a teenager is in trouble and how to help.

Parents can be clueless when it comes to recognizing suicide risk factors, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes. In a new survey of teenagers and parents in Chicago and in the Kansas City, Kan., area, which appears online in Pediatrics, both parents and teenagers said that teen suicide was a problem, but not in their community. The teenagers correctly said that drug and alcohol use was a big risk factor for suicide, with some even noting that drinking and drug use could be a form of self-medication or self-harm. By contrast, many of the parents shrugged off substance abuse as acceptable adolescent behavior. Read more.

[Read Depressed Teens Have Big Trouble Getting Help and How to Raise Kids Who Can Cope.]

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