Late-Night Eating Can Promote Obesity [Study]

In a “broken clock” study of mice, University of Pennsylvania researchers claim that eating when you should be getting your eight hours of normal sleep can make you fat.

In the findings published in the Nature Medicine journal, the scientists removed the so-called clock gene Arnl (a.k.a. Bmal1) in the fat cells of mice. As a result of the time shifting, the mice starting eating during the day when they normally sleep. The mice apparently became obese as a result.

The Medical Express website provides more of the background on the study:

“Daily intake of food is driven by oscillating expression of genes that drive and suppress appetite in the hypothalamus. When the clock was broken in fat cells, the Penn investigators found that this hypothalamic rhythm was disrupted to favor food consumption at the time of inappropriate intake – daytime in mice, nighttime in humans.”

In keeping with the animal imagery, this study suggests that if you are a night owl (or a second- or third-shift worker) rather than an early bird, you’re more likely to become overweight.

“When a species’ typical daily rhythm is thrown off, changes in metabolism also happen. For example, in people, night shift workers have an increased prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome, and patients with sleep disorders have a higher risk for developing obesity. Also, less sleep means more weight gain in healthy men and women.”

The scientists also discovered separately that feeding the mice with EPA and DHA (typically found in fish oil) could help address the obesity issue brought upon on the broken cell clock.

Do you think that people who stay up late are more likely to have weight problems?