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Avoiding dinner helps fight obesity

Avoiding dinner helps fight obesity

(photo: iStockphoto)

The latest scientific evidence shows how night feedings can affect body weight regulation. The study, published in the popular journal Cell Metabolism, looks at the effects of late meals on calorie burn, hunger pangs, and the way the body stores fat.

These findings are invaluable because obesity affects millions of people around the world, and realizing that late-night meals should be avoided can help improve global health.

In the study, 16 participants with a body mass index (BMI) indicating obesity underwent two tests over a period of six days in which their eating and sleeping habits were closely monitored. During the test, the participants ate three meals a day — breakfast at 9 am, lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 6 pm. In the second test, meals were shifted by a few hours so that breakfast was at 1 pm, lunch at 6 pm, and dinner at 9 pm.

The research found that levels of leptin—a hormone that signals the body when it’s full—were lower over a 24-hour period when the subjects ate later. This indicates that they were hungrier and more likely to eat more. It has also been found that calories are burned more slowly at subsequent meals, which promotes fat storage.

The study authors emphasized: “The results obtained show converging mechanisms by which delayed feeding may lead to a positive energy balance and an increased risk of obesity.

The researchers not only wanted to look more closely at the relationship between meal times and weight gain, but also to uncover the biological reasons for this. “We wanted to test mechanisms that could explain why eating late in the day increases the risk of obesity,” explained Frank Scheer, a scientist at Boston Hospital (USA) and one of the authors of the study.

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The study showed that eating meals late increases the risk of obesity through a combination of physiological and molecular mechanisms. Since obesity can lead to other health problems such as diabetes and cancer, finding preventive measures such as timing of food intake is of great importance for improving the health of the global population.