New Links Between Late Night Eating and Disease
The late night snack has become a Western tradition. Many people reach for a bite to eat before heading to bed at night—often something sweet. In addition, modern life often requires that workers eat dinner late at night after a long day at jobs, school and on the freeways. The result is that eating late at night is extremely common, practiced perhaps by a majority of people. However, a new study suggests that late night eating can have serious health consequences, contributing to diabetes, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
Why do people crave food, especially unhealthy food, late at night? Experts suggest that people are primed to eat these foods late at night as this practice allowed ancient humans to store calories more efficiently. However, most modern people do not need to store more calories as fat. Our circadian rhythms are not primed to digest and use nutrients late at night as they are during the day. Researchers looked at the eating habits of people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease as well as those without these health issues. People who have these diseases are far more likely to be late night snackers. In fact, eating at night appears to be a potential risk factor for these diseases.
The exact reasons for this connection are not known. However, there are a few hints. Late night snackers have been shown to gain weight more easily. This is a phenomenon that is seen even in lab animals. In addition, people who eat later at night have significantly higher triglycerides, which have been linked to both Type 2 diabetes and heart disea Continue reading