Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Today's Non-Story

New research suggests the secret to maintaining a healthy weight could be as easy as turning off the lights at night.

Persistent exposure to light during the hours of darkness changes your metabolism and makes you pile on the pounds even without any change in the amount you eat.  The researchers, from Ohio State University, also discovered that staying up later often led to a change in eating habits with much more food eaten at night when the metabolism is slowing down.

Study co-author Professor Randy Nelson said: "Light at night is an environmental factor that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in ways that people don't expect.

"Societal obesity is correlated with a number of factors including the extent of light exposure at night.

"Something about light at night was making the mice (in one experiment) want to eat at the wrong times to properly metabolize their food."

The answer is keep the lights off then you won't see your way to the fridge. Simple.



Richard said...

There may be something in this. I have phases where I stay up late and lie in bed too long (although still only sleeping 7-8 hours) and at these times I am prone to put on weight. There's something about the way we live that makes us as a society prone to obesity, compared with previous generations and less developed countries. There's a key discovery to be made here, and I'll bet it is nothing to do with calories - it will either be something in the food we eat that wasn't there before, or another environmental factor that no-one has thought of. The artificial light idea is a possibility. One thing's for sure - it won't be anything as simple as calories.

Joe Public said...

The conclusion is correct, they just apply the wrong logic.

"... the secret to maintaining a healthy weight could be as easy as turning off the lights at night."

The reason it works (for me) is that I can't find all those choccy bars with the light off.

subrosa said...

I would agree Richard, it's nothing to do with calories. It's to do with understand our metabolisms and how we differ in how we use calories.

What I would like is a study based upon the metabolisms of the likes of myself who is a night person. I'm not fat although I watch my weight. Owing to my career I seldom ate during 'normal' meal times and enjoyed eating late at night when I could relax.

A study about how that food was consumed would be interested. Of course age and agility should be part of the question.

subrosa said...

Exactly Joe (although I don't believe you).

I know a few folk who can home into bars of chocolate without even hitting the sides of the kitchen door. :)

All Seeing Eye said...

...without even hitting the sides of the kitchen door

Even when it's closed.


subrosa said...

I know someone who can sniff out chocolate through doors ASE.

William said...

People who eat late at night tend to gain weight because they've eaten a lot during the day. I don't believe there is anything in the timing of the meals that's significant - it's the quantity. Mice? Meh.

In my experience, people tend to over-estimate how much exercise they take and under-estimate how much food they eat.

I don't think our climate helps, particularly in this weather. When it's dark fairly early, usually raining, people tend to stay indoors, surrounded by lots of sugary, stodgy food and get bored. We do have an abundance of stodge, full of addictive chemicals, and people take the easy option.

subrosa said...

I must be unusual then William. I've always been an evening meal person with nothing much in the day except bananas. Was like that most of my working life. Perhaps it was because I felt I could relax and enjoy a meal in the evening.

You're right though. Our climate and situation doesn't help. With only 6 hours daylight for a couple of months we do tend to eat more carbs.

William said...

That's the thing, SR, you ate lightly during the day so an evening meal had no impact on your weight.

In your source article, Tam Fry makes the error I'm talking about by claiming there is some magical weight gain property in the timing of meals. If you eat at 10pm, having not eaten since lunchtime, you will not gain weight. However, people who eat, or snack, at 10pm have *usually* been eating all day. That's the issue - not the time.

subrosa said...

It's all about common sense though isn't it William. I still tend to eat that way nowadays but do little exercise in the evenings. Whereas when I worked outside housework duties took up a big part of evening hours.

My excuse is it's middle age spread. :) Not a lot of it btw.

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