How your body clock linked to obesity and diabetes

In a new study, researchers have found connections linking diabetes and obesity to circadian rhythm, often referred to as the body clock.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Otago.

During the study, the team examined the effects of disruption to the body clock of mice in a controlled laboratory setting.

They found that repeated jetlag led to weight gain and severe diabetes symptoms.

The team says anything that interferes with it, such as travel jetlag, social jetlag, shift work, bright-light exposure at the wrong time of day, can be detrimental for human health.

For example, very bright street lights disrupt melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm.

This disruption can lead to obesity and diabetes if the studies can be translated to humans, but there is also accumulating evidence that disrupted melatonin secretion leads to cancer.

The team hopes these findings will prompt experiments with humans to investigate which intensity of artificial light suppresses melatonin, and thereby would be detrimental for human health.

This would lead to more informed decisions in choosing artificial light sources for their particular purpose.

Another new study also examined how the body clock influences the ability to process fatty food and found supportive evidence for the popular diet technique of skipping a meal.

The body produces hormones which appear to work better at fighting off fatty foods consumed at particular times of the day.

If people avoid eating at times when these hormones are not working, we can reduce the detrimental effects of a fatty diet.

The crucial hormone in regard to eating time is leptin; a body-weight regulatory hormone. Detrimental effects of high-fat feeding are exacerbated during leptin resistant times of the day.

The researchers found that contrary to current thinking, resistance against leptin is not universal throughout the day in obese mice.

In mice, it was particularly detrimental for metabolic health when access to fatty food was restricted to the late-night and early morning, times when the animal was resistant to leptin.

For mice, this would be dinner time, as they are active during the night and sleep during the day.

Because of this difference, the team cannot yet give a clear recommendation of which meal to skip to lose body weight.

But if the results could directly translatable to humans it would be most likely dinner.

It needs to be in alignment with our body clock and would also depend on our individual chronotype, that means whether a person is a lark or an owl may make a difference about choosing which meal to skip.

One of the studies is Associate Professor Alexander Tups of the University of Otago.

The studies are published in Endocrinology and the FASEB Journal.

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