Eating late at night increases risk for obesity and diabetes


During the past few decades, sleeping pattern of people have undergone drastic changes due to busy schedules. Eating late at night and sleeping late in the night has become a new normal. This has become a common behavior in industrialized countries resulting in sleep curtailment and has become a very common behavior in. This trend for eating late and shorter sleep duration has developed over the same time period as the dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. There is rapidly accumulating evidence to indicate that late-night eating and chronic partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes

According to a new study, late-night dinners and snacks can boost your risk of obesity and diabetes. The study has been published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This is not the first study to show the effects of late eating, but it is one of the most detailed. Participants wore activity trackers, had blood sugar sampling every hour while staying in a lab, underwent sleep studies and body fat scans, and ate food that contained non-radioactive labels so that the rate of fat oxidation could be determined.

Another study sheds light on how eating a late dinner worsens glucose tolerance and reduces the amount of fat burned. The effect of late eating varies greatly between people and depends on their usual bedtime,” said the study’s corresponding author Jonathan C. Jun, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. “This shows that some people might be more vulnerable to late eating than others. If the metabolic effects we observed with a single meal keep occurring chronically, then late eating could lead to consequences such as diabetes or obesity.”

The researchers studied 20 healthy volunteers (10 men and 10 women) to see how they metabolized dinner eaten at 10 p.m. compared to 6 p.m. The volunteers all went to bed at 11 p.m. The researchers found that blood sugar levels were higher, and the amount of ingested fat burned was lower with the later dinner, even when the same meal was provided at the two different times. “On average, the peak glucose level after late dinner was about 18 percent higher, and the amount of fat burned overnight decreased by about 10 percent compared to eating an earlier dinner. The effects we have seen in healthy volunteers might be more pronounced in people with obesity or diabetes, who already have a compromised metabolism,” said the study’s first author Chenjuan Gu, M.D., Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins University.


“We still need to do more experiments to see if these effects continue over time, and if they are caused more by behavior such as sleeping soon after a meal or by the body’s circadian rhythms,” Jun said.

Some studies suggest that consuming calories later in the day is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. The researchers hypothesized that eating a late dinner alters substrate metabolism during sleep in a manner that promotes obesity. Over 2.1 billion adults are estimated to have overweight or obesity which make health complications like diabetes with high blood sugar and high blood pressure more likely.

According to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., author of “The Healthy Heart Miracle,” the study subjects had higher blood sugar, insulin, and cortisol levels and a lower ability to remove and use fat from their cells.

“These are all risk factors for obesity,” he said, adding that previous studies have shown similar results while others have found that eating most of your calories in the morning and fewer at night helps you lose weight.

“If you don’t move around and contract your muscles after eating, you increase your risk for high blood sugar levels,” Mirkin explained. “You also burn the fewest number of calories when you sleep, so more of it is stored as fat. Hence it makes sense to eat your last meal earlier in the evening and not right before bedtime.”

Some recent advocates of intermittent fasting have recommended skipping breakfast, a controversial move, according to dietitians. Instead, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. A study has found that those who skipped breakfast had a higher degree of hardening of the arteries. Another study found that individuals who made breakfast the largest meal of the day were more likely to lose weight than those who made lunch or dinner their largest meals. A study of type 2 diabetics found that a large breakfast containing protein helped in the management of their disease.

According to BBC Future, when overweight and obese women were put on a weight-loss diet for three months, those who ate most of their calories at breakfast lost two and a half times more weight than those who consumed a light breakfast, saving most of their calories for dinner.

Mirkin says that the “least healthful time to eat is just before you go to bed, and the most healthful times to eat are before your exercise or within an hour after you finish exercising ” to help control blood sugar levels. Several studies show that blood sugar levels respond best to insulin during the day and worst at night

Many experts adhere to the old adage of eating “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”