New Student First to Link Internal Clock to What and When People Eat
February 23, 2017
The Obesity Society Communications: TOSCommunications@obesity.org
SILVER SPRING, MD: Benjamin Franklin famously extolled the virtues of early
risers saying, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and
wise” – and a new study out today adds scientific data to the claim that
morning people may in fact be healthier. By comparing “morning type” people
with “evening type” people, researchers found that morning people ate more
balanced foods overall and ate earlier in the day. Published in Obesity, the scientific journal of
The Obesity Society (TOS), this is the first study of its kind to examine what and
when people with different internal time clocks eat, including macronutrients
like carbohydrates, protein and fat.
“Early birds may have an extra advantage over night owls
when it comes to fighting obesity as they are instinctively choosing to eat
healthier foods earlier in the day,” said TOS spokesperson Courtney Peterson,
PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Previous studies have shown
that eating earlier in the day may help with weight loss and lower the risk of
developing diabetes and heart disease. What this new study shows is that our
biological clocks not only affect our metabolism but also what we choose to eat.”
Researchers looked at data from nearly 2,000 randomly chosen
people to determine if their circadian or biological clock rhythm (chronotype)
affected what they ate and at what time. Clear differences in both energy and
macronutrients between the two chronotypes abound, with morning people making
healthier choices throughout the day. Evening types ate less protein overall and
ate more sucrose, a type of sugar, in the morning. In the evening, they ate
more sucrose, fat and saturated fatty acids. On weekends, the differences between
the morning and evening type people was even more pronounced, with evening
types having more irregular meal times and twice as many eating occasions. The
evening types also slept worse and were less physically active overall.
“Linking what and when people eat to their biological clock
type provides a fresh perspective on why certain people are more likely to make
unhealthy food decisions,” said Mirkka Maukonen, who led the study out of the
National Institute for Health and Welfare at the Department of Public Health
Solutions in Helsinki, Finland, using data from the national FINRISK 2007
study. “This study shows that evening type people have less favorable eating
habits, which may put them at a higher risk for obesity, diabetes and heart
For people working to lose weight, this new research may
provide a compelling window into why they choose to make certain food choices
throughout the day, say researchers.
“Clinicians can help steer people to healthier options – and
suggest the optimal time to eat these foods – based on what we now know about our
biological clocks,” said Dr. Peterson.
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This press release can be published in full or in part with attribution to The Obesity Society.
About The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. For more information visit: www.Obesity.org. Connect with us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Find TOS disclosures here.