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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

When you Eat Matters as Much as What you Eat

May 18, 2012

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – A new study suggests that the health consequences of a poor diet might result in part from a mismatch between our body clocks and our eating schedules.

“Every organ has a clock,” lead author of the Study Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological studies was quoted saying. There are times that our livers, intestines, muscles, and other organs will work at peak efficiency and other times when they are more or less sleeping.

Panda’s team fed mice a high-fat diet for a restricted time frame of eight hours per day. Panda discovered that even though the mice can eat just as much as those who can eat around the clock, they were protected from obesity and other metabolic ills. The mice also had lower levels of inflammation, among other benefits.

“When we eat randomly, those genes aren´t completely on or off completely,” Panda was quoted saying. The principle is just like it is with sleep and waking, he explained. If we don´t sleep well at night, we aren´t completely awake during the day, and we work less efficiently as a consequence.

Panda suggests there is a reason society’s eating patterns have changed in recent years, as many people have greater access to food and reasons to stay up into the night, even if just to watch TV. When people are awake they tend to snack.

“The focus has been on what people eat,” Panda was quoted saying. “We don´t collect data on when people eat.” The findings suggest that restricted meal times might be an underappreciated lifestyle change to help people keep off the pounds. At the very least, the new evidence suggests that this is a factor in the obesity epidemic that should be given more careful consideration.

SOURCE: Cell Metabolism, May 2012