Is that late night snack putting you at risk for diabetes and heart disease?

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that snacking late at night may increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. To carry out the study, the research team examined nine healthy-weight adults who were instructed to consume three meals and two snacks between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. for eight weeks. The participants were also instructed to eat the same meals, but this time between noon and 11:00 p.m. for another eight weeks. In order to control for sleep, the participants were instructed to sleep between 11:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. during the study’s duration.

The study revealed that the participants produced appetite-stimulating hormones when they ate during the day, which made them feel fuller for longer. However, the research team found that late-night eating not only spurred weight gain, but also resulted in higher insulin, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol levels among the participants. Late-night snacking was also associated with increased risk of heart disease or heart attack among participants.

“These early findings, which control for sleep, give a more comprehensive picture of the benefits of eating earlier in the same. Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy and hormone markers – such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions,” lead author Namni Goel said in Telegraph.co.uk.

Another study links meal timing to diabetes and heart disease

Another study, published early this year revealed that people who skipped breakfast and those who ate late in the evening were at an increased risk of suffering heart attack or stroke. The study also revealed that people who had irregular meal schedules were likely to put on excess weight. According to researchers, the timing of meals remain important as long fasting periods between meals may tempt people to binge on unhealthy food items such as junk foods high in sugar and fat. (Related: Eating breakfast may actually slash heart risk)

“Eating patterns are increasingly varied. Typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals are difficult to distinguish because skipping meals and snacking have become more prevalent. Such eating styles can have various effects on cardiometabolic health markers, namely obesity, lipid profile, insulin resistance, and blood pressure. Meal timing may affect health due to its impact on the body’s internal clock. In animal studies, it appears that when animals receive food while in an inactive phase, such as when they are sleeping, their internal clocks are reset in a way that can alter nutrient metabolism, resulting in greater weight gain, insulin resistance and inflammation. However, more research would need to be done in humans before that can be stated as a fact. We suggest eating mindfully, by paying attention to planning both what you eat and when you eat meals and snacks, to combat emotional eating,” Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, said in Express.co.uk.

However, Prof. St-Onge noted that the findings warrant further investigation. The findings were published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association. 

Sources include: 

Telegraph.co.uk

Express.co.uk

Circ.AHAJournals.org

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