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Ben Franklin's Advice Proven Correct in New Obesity Study

Time and obesity

Early birds are more like to make healthy diet choices, and thus are less likely to be overweight.


Early to Bed, Early to Rise – it may make not make you wealthy or wise, but there is a good chance your diet is a healthy one if you are a morning person.

Researchers with the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found that compared to “evening type” people, those who wake up early each morning are more likely to eat a more balanced diet and choose more healthful foods over the course of the day.

Courtney Peterson PhD says that “Previous studies have shown that eating earlier in the day may help with weight loss and lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. What this new study shows is that our biological clocks not only affect our metabolism, but also what we choose to eat.”

The study followed about 2000 randomly chosen people and found that those who were more likely to be evening types ate more sugar – especially in the morning – and ate less protein overall. Weekend diet habits were even worse as evidenced by irregular meal times and eating twice as much as usual.

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This eating style puts one at greater risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

On the other hand, early morning risers have been shown to be more likely to eat less sugar and fat, more fruits and vegetables – and they are also more likely to have a regular exercise habit.

"Linking what and when people eat to their biological clock type provides a fresh perspective on why certain people are more likely to make unhealthy food decisions," said Mirkka Maukonen, of the National Institute for Health and Welfare at the Department of Public Health Solutions in Helsinki, Finland.

Journal Reference:
Mirkka Maukonen, Noora Kanerva, Timo Partonen, Erkki Kronholm, Heli Tapanainen, Jukka Kontto, Satu Männistö. Chronotype differences in timing of energy and macronutrient intakes: A population-based study in adults. Obesity, 2017; 25 (3): 608 DOI: 10.1002/oby.21747

Additional Resource:
Freda Patterson et al. Smoking, Screen-Based Sedentary Behavior, and Diet Associated with Habitual Sleep Duration and Chronotype: Data from the UK Biobank. Annals of Behavioral Medicine; October 2016, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 715–726

Photo Credit: Pavel Ševela [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons