Health Watch -- Obesity Research: Midnight Snacks

Health Watch is a public service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we're talking about research into hunger, appetite and other factors relating to obesity. If you're a fan of late-night snacks, you could be training your brain at a genetic level to expect food at certain times of day. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that regularly eating at unusual times genetically changes parts of the brain so that you expect food at that time.

The researchers found that feeding mice at times when they wouldn't normally eat turned on the body clock at those times so that the affected genes started activating even when there wasn't any food. Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, a UT Southwestern molecular geneticist, says his group will now do more research into how the various body clocks communicate with each other. This knowledge is important for fighting obesity because obese people often eat at inappropriate times, especially late at night. 

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September 2006

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