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OHSU Research: Body's Internal Clock Behind Late Night Snacking

Do you find yourself craving junk food in the evening?


Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University say the body’s internal clock — the circadian system — is the reason.

Researchers took 12 healthy adults and put them in a lab for 13 days in dim light. Gradually their meals and activities were evenly spaced across the day and night, so researchers could examined how their appetites were affected by their circadian systems. The study found increased hunger and cravings for sweet, starchy and salty foods in the evenings. 

Dr. Steven Shea says while the urge to consume more in the evening may have helped our ancestors store energy, nowadays we might want to follow the old adage: eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. 

Shea explained, “Given the fact that there’s an epidemic of obesity across the world, eating the smaller meals in the evening and going to bed sooner rather than later, may help counteract that obesity epidemic.” 

The study was done in conduction with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It’s published in the most recent version of the journal Obesity.

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