Many believe that eating late can disrupt the body’s metabolic processes, increasing the risk of being overweight or obese. However, a study published online on March 15 in the British Journal of Nutrition finds no link between eating late at night and obesity.
Previous studies claimed that the timing of food intake affects the body’s circadian rhythm and metabolic processes, which puts one at risk of being overweight or obese. The researchers at King’s College London says that those eating dinner between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. does not have a higher obesity risk than those eating between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The research team studied the eating habits data of 768 kids who were four to 10-year-olds and 852 young people who were 11 to 18-year-olds from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme conducted in the UK from 2008 through 2012. The survey information revealed the children’s dietary intake and meal schedule within four days, as well as their height and weight.
The researchers found no significant link between the timing of food intake and obesity risk. Moreover, they also found that the energy of children who ate dinner before 8 p.m. was not that different to those who ate later.
Although the girls between the ages of 11 and 18 who ate earlier took in more carbohydrates, the difference was too insignificant to affect the results. The same can be said to those four to 10-year-old boys who ate later with more protein.
They researchers say that more investigations are required to further understand the association of food intake timing and childhood obesity. Still, they assert that the findings show that current health recommendations of not eating late at night are unsubstantiated.
The team admits that the study is limited since they did not consider the children’s sleep duration, breakfast eating habits, and physical activity. However, they are currently conducting another study with the aforementioned factors included.