It’s time to kick the habit of late night snacking after new research suggests it could lead to a potentially deadly condition. Eating late at night increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes because it raises levels of harmful blood fats.
Shift work, in particular, is triggering the illnesses because people are eating their main meals at the wrong time of the day, scientists have discovered.
Jetlag, or simply staying up late, is also leading to dangerous midnight feasts.
The new research involved testing rats by feeding them at different times of the day.
It found that when the animals ate at the start of their rest period there was a dramatic spike in blood fats, compared to if they were fed just before they became active.
The blood fats – called triglycerides – are produced in the liver and come from meat, dairy products and cooking oils. They can clog arteries and imflame the pancreas, leading to heart disease or diabetes.
The latest findings, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, suggested the body’s 24 hour cycle is to blame.
Dr Ruud Buijs, one of the authors of the journal, said: ‘The fact we can ignore our biological clock is important for survival.
‘We can decide to sleep during the day when we are extremely tired, or we run away from danger at night.
‘However, doing this frequently – with shift work, jet lag, or staying up late at night – will harm our health in the long term especially when we eat at times when we should sleep.’
In the last decade studies have documented triglycerides can cause strokes and heart attacks.
Dr Buijs said: ‘Studies show that night workers, who have activity and meal patterns shifted towards the night have an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.’
According to a 2013 study, people who ate early in the day lost approximately 12 percent of their body weight, while late eaters lost only 8 percent, even though they all followed the same diet and exercise regime.