News Stories

Late Night Snacks are OK

If, like Dagwood, you feel the urge to creep into the kitchen late at night for a snack, don't worry, you're not making yourself fat.

Dr. Judy Cameron carried out tests on 47 female monkeys and found no link between when they ate and whether or not they gained weight. She made the discovery by accident, while studying the relationship between female hormones and weight gain. Her team surgically removed ovaries from 19 of them, inducing instant menopause. She found that the monkeys who no longer had the female hormones estrogen and progesterone started to eat more and put on weight. She says, "The absence of these hormones resulted in a 67% jump in food intake and a 5% jump in weight in a matter of weeks."

They also had higher levels of the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells and causes us to eat more. All this shows why women have more trouble keeping weight off after middle age.

However, they found no link between when the animals ate and how much weight they gained. "Time and again, we've been told that eating late at night should be avoided because it will cause weight gain," says Cameron. "However, there isn't a lot of research to back up this commonly held belief, which may in fact be somewhat of an urban myth."

Nigel Denby of the British Dietetic Association says, "I think it dates back to when people started taking an interest in diets. People are more likely to eat fatty snacks at night when they are watching television."

So if you feel an urge for Thanksgiving leftovers at midnight?go for it. And have a happy Thanksgiving.

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