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It's not what you eat, it's when you eat that matters

TIMING: New research conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the US, suggests timing your meals right is the key to beating obesity

"IT'S NOT what you eat, it's when you eat that matters: study shows timing your meals right is the key to beating obesity," the Mail Online reports.

The headline was prompted by a small US study involving 110 university students. Researchers gave them activity monitors to wear, measured their sleep patterns, and observed how much they ate and at what time.

The researchers were particularly interested in what they termed dim-light melatonin onset (DLMO). DLMO is when the body begins to wind down in preparation for sleep and starts producing the sleep hormone melatonin. For most of us, our DLMO usually begins around 8pm. But the timing can vary if you do shift work.

The researchers found students with a higher body weight tended to eat more of their calories later in the day, closer to their DLMO. This adds to previous evidence suggesting it's good to consume more of our calories earlier in the day, when we have more opportunities to be active ahead of us. Eating large, heavy meals late in the evening has also been linked with higher body fat.

But as a single study in a small, specific sample of students, this study provides little evidence that lifestyle and eating habits have a direct effect on body weight. NHS Health News advises to consider whether regularly eating a large, heavy meal close to bedtime is the best thing for your health and wellbeing.

Eating earlier in the day may not make you magically thinner, but it may help prevent night-time indigestion.

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