A study published in Obesity, the scientific journal of The Obesity Society, suggests that a person’s internal clock may impact what he/she eats and overall health. 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.
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 Dept. 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 disease.”
The researchers concluded that 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.