Why Does Late-Night Eating Lead to Weight Gain?

Northwestern Medicine scientists have uncovered the mechanism behind why eating late at night is linked to weight gain and diabetes. The connection between eating time, sleep and obesity is well-known but poorly understood, with research showing that over-nutrition can disrupt circadian rhythms and change fat tissue.

New Northwestern research has shown for the first time that energy release may be the molecular mechanism through which our internal clocks control energy balance. From this understanding, the scientists also found that daytime is the ideal time in the light environment of the Earth’s rotation when it is most optimal to dissipate energy as heat. These findings have broad implications from dieting to sleep loss and the way we feed patients who require long-term nutritional assistance. The paper, “Time-restricted feeding mitigates obesity through adipocyte thermogenesis,” will be published online today, and in print tomorrow (Oct. 21) in the journal Science.

“It is well known, albeit poorly understood, that insults to the body clock are going to be insults to metabolism,” said corresponding study author Dr. Joseph T. Bass, the Charles F. Kettering Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He also is a Northwestern Medicine endocrinologist.

“When animals consume Western style cafeteria diets — high fat, high carb — the clock gets scrambled,” Bass said. “The clock is sensitive to the time people eat, especially in fat tissue, and that sensitivity is thrown off by high-fat diets. We still don’t understand why that is, but what we do know is that as animals become obese, they start to eat more when they should be asleep. This research shows why that matters.”

Excerpted from Science Daily

Read Full Article