Summary: According to researchers, those who eat in close proximity to their natural melatonin onset are more likely to have a higher percentage of body fat and BMI than those who eat earlier.
Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Weight gain and obesity has been described as an epidemic and a complex problem in the United States. Previous research has linked poor diet to weight gain and high body fat, and eating later in the day has also been described as a risk factor for weight gain; however, the impact of an individual’s body clock, independent of the time of day of food consumption, has not been explored.
In a recent study published online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) on September 6, 2017, BWH investigators examined the relationships between body fat and body mass index, and the timing of food consumption, to time of day and to the body’s circadian or body clock. This is the first time that the timing of meals has been studied in real world settings, in relation to melatonin onset, which marks the onset of sleep.
“We found that the timing of food intake relative to melatonin onset, a marker of a person’s biological night, is associated with higher percent body fat and BMI, and not associated with the time of day, amount or composition of food intake,” stated lead author Andrew W. McHill, PhD, researcher with the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at BWH. “These findings suggest that the timing of when you consume calories, relative to your own biological timing may be more important for health than the actual time of day.”
Researchers analyzed data collected from 110 college-age participants enrolled in a 30-day observational study to document sleep times and daily meal intake. A mobile phone app was used to time-stamp, document and record the participants’ food intake over seven consecutive days of their regular routines. For one night during the 30-day study, participants were studied at the BWH Center for Clinical Investigation to assess the timing of their melatonin onset, marking onset of sleep, and their body composition.
Researchers found that individuals with high body fat percentages consumed most of their calories shortly before going to sleep when melatonin levels were high, compared to individuals with lower percentages of body fat. Researchers note that they were unable to detect a relationship between the clock hour of food intake, caloric amount, meal composition, activity/exercise level, or sleep duration, and either of these body composition measures. The researchers acknowledged several limitations that need to be considered for future work, including the fact that the population of college-aged individuals may not be representative of the entire population in terms of food choice and circadian or body clock rhythm.
Researchers concluded that these results provide evidence that the consumption of food during the circadian evening/night, independent of more traditional risk factors such as amount or content of food intake and activity level, plays an important role in body composition.
About this neuroscience research article
Funding: The project was funded by the NIH and NSBRI and these are the grant numbers: NIH F32DK107146, T32HL007901, K24HL105664, R01HL114088, R01GM105018, 01HL128538, P01AG009975, R21HD086392, R00HL119618, R01DK099512, R01DK105072 and R01HL118601 and NSBRI HFP02802, HFP04201, HDP0006.
Source: Elaine St. Peter – Brigham and Women’s Hospital Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research:Abstract for “Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat” by Andrew W McHill, Andrew JK Phillips, Charles A Czeisler, Leigh Keating, Karen Yee, Laura K Barger, Marta Garaulet, Frank AJL Scheer, and Elizabeth B Klerman in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online September 6 2017 doi:10.3945/ajcn.117.161588
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Brigham and Women’s Hospital “Later Circadian Timing of Food Intake Is Associated with Increased Body Mass Index.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews,8 September 2017. <https://neurosciencenews.com/circadian-rhythm-food-bmi-7445/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Brigham and Women’s Hospital (2017, September 8). Later Circadian Timing of Food Intake Is Associated with Increased Body Mass Index. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved September 8, 2017 from https://neurosciencenews.com/circadian-rhythm-food-bmi-7445/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Brigham and Women’s Hospital “Later Circadian Timing of Food Intake Is Associated with Increased Body Mass Index.” https://neurosciencenews.com/circadian-rhythm-food-bmi-7445/ (accessed September 8, 2017).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat
Background: Weight gain and obesity have reached alarming levels. Eating at a later clock hour is a newly described risk factor for adverse metabolic health; yet, how eating at a later circadian time influences body composition is unknown. Using clock hour to document eating times may be misleading owing to individual differences in circadian timing relative to clock hour.
Objective: This study examined the relations between the timing of food consumption relative to clock hour and endogenous circadian time, content of food intake, and body composition.
Design: We enrolled 110 participants, aged 18–22 y, in a 30-d cross-sectional study to document sleep and circadian behaviors within their regular daily routines. We used a time-stamped-picture mobile phone application to record all food intake across 7 consecutive days during a participant’s regular daily routines and assessed their body composition and timing of melatonin release during an in-laboratory assessment.
Results: Nonlean individuals (high body fat) consumed most of their calories 1.1 h closer to melatonin onset, which heralds the beginning of the biological night, than did lean individuals (low body fat) (log-rank P = 0.009). In contrast, there were no differences between lean and nonlean individuals in the clock hour of food consumption (P = 0.72). Multiple regression analysis showed that the timing of food intake relative to melatonin onset was significantly associated with the percentage of body fat and body mass index (both P < 0.05) while controlling for sex, whereas no relations were found between the clock hour of food intake, caloric amount, meal macronutrient composition, activity or exercise level, or sleep duration and either of these body composition measures (all P > 0.72).
Conclusions: These results provide evidence that the consumption of food during the circadian evening and/or night, independent of more traditional risk factors such as amount or content of food intake and activity level, plays an important role in body composition. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02846077.
“Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat” by Andrew W McHill, Andrew JK Phillips, Charles A Czeisler, Leigh Keating, Karen Yee, Laura K Barger, Marta Garaulet, Frank AJL Scheer, and Elizabeth B Klerman in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online September 6 2017 doi:10.3945/ajcn.117.161588