Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Late-Night Snacking May Train Brain to Crave at All Hours

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Late-Night Snacking May Train Brain to Crave at All Hours

Article excerpt

Giving up regular late-night snacking may be difficult not only because it is a routine activity. The habit may have a genetic effect on an area of the brain, which expects food at that time, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas found that food turns on body-clock genes in a particular area of the brain. Even when the food stops coming, the genes continue to be activated at the expected mealtime.

"This might be an entrance to the whole mysterious arena of how metabolic conditions in an animal can synchronize themselves with a body clock," said Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, Professor of Molecular Genetics.

The daily ups-and-downs of waking, eating, and other bodily processes are known as circadian rhythms, which are regulated by many internal and external forces. One class of genes involved in these cycles is known as "Period" (Per) genes.

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When food is freely available, the strongest controlling force is light, which sets the body's sleep/wake cycle, among other functions. …

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