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Food Clock

September 6, 2006

Eating late at night could throw off your internal clock.


Hunger clocks gone haywire. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Late-night snackers, beware: You may be altering your brain. Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that this happens to mice, when they’re fed when they ought to be sleeping. Within just a few days, the mice were up looking for food shortly before it arrived. Molecular geneticist Masashi Yanagisawa and his colleagues discovered a genetic switch in the brain’s hunger center that flipped on before the new feeding time. He says the same may happen in humans.

MASAHI YANAGISAWA (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center):
Those people who habitually eat a lot during the night — they are like those mice. These people are forcing themselves to eat in a biologically abnormal time period for humans…

… thereby training their brains to expect and even seek out more midnight snacks in the future. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.