Skip to comments.Too much light at night at night may lead to obesity, study finds
Posted on 10/11/2010 2:58:19 PM PDT by decimon
COLUMBUS, Ohio Persistent exposure to light at night may lead to weight gain, even without changing physical activity or eating more food, according to new research in mice.
Researchers found that mice exposed to a relatively dim light at night over eight weeks had a body mass gain that was about 50 percent more than other mice that lived in a standard light-dark cycle.
"Although there were no differences in activity levels or daily consumption of food, the mice that lived with light at night were getting fatter than the others," said Laura Fonken, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.
The study appears this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
If the mice are not less active or eating more, what's causing the bigger weight gain? Results suggest that mice living with light at night eat at times they normally wouldn't.
In one study, mice exposed to light at night but that had food availability restricted to normal eating times gained no more weight than did mice in a normal light-dark cycle.
"Something about light at night was making the mice in our study want to eat at the wrong times to properly metabolize their food," said Randy Nelson, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience and psychology at Ohio State.
If these results are confirmed in humans, it would suggest that late-night eating might be a particular risk factor for obesity, Nelson said.
In one study, mice were housed in one of three conditions: 24 hours of constant light, a standard light-dark cycle (16 hours of light at 150 lux, 8 hours of dark), or 16 hours of daylight and 8 hours of dim light (about 5 lux of light).
The researchers measured how much food the mice ate each day. They also measured how much they moved around their cages each day through an infrared beam crossing system. Body mass was calculated each week.
Results showed that, compared to mice in the standard light-dark cycle, those in dim light at night showed significantly higher increases in body mass, beginning in the first week of the study and continuing throughout.
By the end of the experiment, light-at-night mice had gained about 12 grams of body mass, compared to 8 grams for those in the standard light-dark cycle. (Mice in constant bright light also gained more than those in the standard light-dark cycle, but Nelson said the dim light-at-night mice were better comparisons to the light exposure that humans generally get.)
The dim light-at-night mice also showed higher levels of epididymal fat, and impaired glucose tolerance a marker of pre-diabetes.
Although the dim light-at-night mice didn't eat more than others, they did change when they ate, results showed. These mice are nocturnal, so they would normally eat substantially more food at night. However, the dim light-at-night mice ate 55 percent of their food during the daylight hours, compared to only 36 percent in the mice living in a standard light-dark cycle.
Since the timing of eating seemed significant, the researchers did a second study, similar to the first, with one important difference: instead of having food freely available at all times, food availability was restricted to either the times when mice would normally be active or when they would normally be at rest.
In this experiment, mice exposed to the dim light at night did not have a greater gain in body mass than did the others when their food was restricted to times when they normally would be active.
"When we restricted their food intake to times when they would normally eat, we didn't see the weight gain," Fonken said. "This further adds to the evidence that the timing of eating is critical to weight gain."
The findings showed that levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, were not significantly different in dim light-at-night mice compared to those living in a standard light-dark cycle.
That's important because corticosterone has been linked to changes in metabolism, Fonken said. This shows there doesn't have to be changes in corticosterone levels to have changes in metabolism in the mice.
So how does light at night lead to changes in metabolism? The researchers believe the light could disrupt levels of the hormone melatonin, which is involved in metabolism. In addition, it may disrupt the expression of clock genes, which help control when animals feed and when they are active.
Overall, the findings show another possible reason for the obesity epidemic in Western countries.
"Light at night is an environmental factor that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in ways that people don't expect," Nelson said. "Societal obesity is correlated with a number of factors including the extent of light exposure at night."
For example, researchers have identified prolonged computer use and television viewing as obesity risk factors, but have focused on how they are associated with a lack of physical activity.
"It may be that people who use the computer and watch the TV a lot at night may be eating at the wrong times, disrupting their metabolism," Nelson said. "Clearly, maintaining body weight requires keeping caloric intake low and physical activity high, but this environmental factor may explain why some people who maintain good energy balance still gain weight."
Other co-authors were Joanna Workman, James Walton, Zachary Weil, and John Morris, all of Ohio State; and Abraham Haim, of the University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, in Israel.
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation.
Just sayin’ ping.
LOL, I had to read the title about 5 times until I figured out the error.
I need more coffee.
darkness helps us lose weight?
I would say it was the refrigerator light coming on during a midnight snack that is the cause for the weight gain.
My advise, unscrew the refrigeator bulb. ;-)
Look at it this way..... when you leave your clothes in a dark closet - they shrink......LOL
How much weight is too much weight. I'm sick of being "charted".
As opposed to, “Too much light at day at night...” or “Too much light at night at day...”
So, how much did this pertinent information cost us?
Perhaps that contributes to the “freshman 10” that people gain when they go to college. Not just the extra snacks, but the late nights by the desk lamp studying.
Oh, and you *immediately* thought of pingin’ me, eh?!?!? ;’)
Unbelievable that this type of stuff is what our money goes to. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?
Makes sense, lol
People who want our money and petition a willing gubmint that will take it from us and give it to them.
Just sayin'. ;-)
Thought I recalled your desiring a personal locus of negative rotund.
I have this problem as sometimes I have to write at night through the night and it sets off my poor eating habits. I am very, very disciplined in my eating even counting calories daily. Yet when I stay up even one night a week to write through the night, I do have weight gain and it screws up my eating cycle that next day and often days to follow even with a regimented workout schedule. It is critical if one wants to maintain weight or lose it that they sleep atleast 7-8 hours a night if this is what works for their body. (and eat and workout appropriately for body size and need.)
“Unbelievable that this type of stuff is what our money goes to. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? “
Exactly! Who gives a rats ass? Literally!
I’m sick and tired of being charter too. They tell me what i should weigh for my age and height....who says? who gets to say what someone of my age and height should weigh? how do they come to that exact number? do we not factor in anything for how many children? genes? body shape? arbitrary number by some random paper pusher all in the name of making us feel insecure and unhealthy so we’ll buy more diet products, certain foods and certain self help books.
At other times in our history we were screaming because our nations population were malnourished. now we’re what? too nourished? never happy these idiots!
The theory has quite a dedicated following...
P.S. Just TOO MANY CALORIES for them!!!
And P.S. No. 2 - Orange Juice has just as much sugar as a coke...
A polite FYI ...
It’s THE Ohio State University.
Go Bucks! :-)
Yeah, and with all these helpings of fruit per day. Sugar is sugar.
Speaking of which...I think I'll finish off that bag of green grapes.
So, I trimmed some weight off of it. ;-)
“Go, Chicken Heart, Go!”
So, it’s not the expose to light that results in weight gain, but that being awake at night results in the likelihood a rat will eat more, which results in weight gain. Correlational studies are typical for for providing misleading information.
“expose” = “exposure”. I need more coffee too!!!
You are aware that not all sugar is equal?
Of course it is.
Um, no it’s not. Processed sugar is metabolized differently than natural sugars.
“Desiring a personal locus of negative rotund” — my new tagline! ;’)
Apparently, it's not just the fact of eating but whether the eating is in our normal cycle.
From the article:
"...eat at the wrong times to properly metabolize their food..."
"This further adds to the evidence that the timing of eating is critical to weight gain."
"So how does light at night lead to changes in metabolism? The researchers believe the light could disrupt levels of the hormone melatonin, which is involved in metabolism."
IIRC, it’s natural light, not artificial light that is involved in the production of melatonin.
And the slight chemical differences notwithstanding, they are almost exactly alike when compared to say, a hunk of sausage.
In fact, starch turns into sugar in your mouth.
There are foods which contain natural sugars, and those sugars are broken down more slowly than processed sugars. That slower metabolism effects insulin production, which is another source of sugar that’s released into the blood stream. Perhaps some research into this area might help???
I think I have a pretty good handle on the subject, natural foods contain "simple sugars". Synthetic sugars, such as corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are simple sugars, honey is also a simple sugar.
But having weathered your insult, perhaps YOU would like to name one of these "hard to digest" sugars I failed to mention.
Natural foods, such as bananas, apples, etc, contain complex carbohydrates, which are metabolized much differently than simple sugars. Insult? That’s on you in your interpretation.
Complex carbohydrates are not sugars.
Starch isn’t sugar.
Um, when one is digging themselves into a hole, one should really stop digging. You’re making the hole deeper. Do some research on starches and complex carbs and get back to me. Pay careful attention to how the body metabolizes starches and complex carbohydrates.
Yeah, that's the ticket.
(That, and FReeping till the wee hours too often.)
Fruits contain both complex carbohydrates and simple sugars (which make them sweet.)
Vegetables, like beans and potatoes, contain complex carbs...they are not particularly sweet.
An apple has both complex carbs, simple sugar, plus cellulose (which makes it crunchy.)
All of the above substances contain carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, they are similar in that respect, and in chemical formula, but they are not the same thing.
The complex carbs and cellulose slow down the digestion of the apple, but the sugar (whatever version) is the first to enter the blood stream.
I stand by my original position which opposes yours, SUGAR IS SUGAR.
By the way, I did that research over 40 years ago in high school, I assumed you did too. I’m pretty sure the facts remain the same.
Well...black garments are slimming...
Actually, the facts have not remained the same, which if you’d take the time to actually update your antiquated knowledge you’d, by now, know this. Sugar is not sugar is not sugar, and there are complex sugar molecules and simple sugar molecules, and they are not metabolized equally in the digestion process. Eating a serving of applie pie versus eating an equivalent serving of an apple doesn’t result in the same metabolic breakdown of the sugars involved. The sugars that are involved in soda is not the same sugars that are involved with natural orange juice. My information is recent, not 40 years old.
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