Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Living against the clock; Does loss of daily rhythms cause obesity?

Date:
August 29, 2012
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
When Thomas Edison tested the first light bulb in 1879, he could never have imagined that this invention could one day contribute to a global obesity epidemic. Electric light allows us to work, rest and play at all hours of the day, and a new article suggests that this might have serious consequences for our health and for our waistlines.

Electric light allows us to work, rest and play at all hours of the day, and a new article suggests that this might have serious consequences for our health and for our waistlines.
Credit: Gina Sanders / Fotolia

When Thomas Edison tested the first light bulb in 1879, he could never have imagined that this invention could one day contribute to a global obesity epidemic. Electric light allows us to work, rest and play at all hours of the day, and a paper published this week in Bioessays suggests that this might have serious consequences for our health and for our waistlines.

Daily or "circadian" rhythms including the sleep wake cycle, and rhythms in hormone release are controlled by a molecular clock that is present in every cell of the human body. This human clock has its own inbuilt, default rhythm of almost exactly 24 hours that allows it to stay finely tuned to the daily cycle generated by the rotation of Earth. This beautiful symmetry between the human clock and the daily cycle of Earth's rotation is disrupted by exposure to artificial light cycles, and by irregular meal, work and sleep times. This mismatch between the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies and the environment is called "circadian desynchrony."

The paper, by Dr. Cathy Wyse, working in the chronobiology research group at the University of Aberdeen, focuses on how the human clock struggles to stay in tune with the irregular meal, sleep and work schedules of the developed world, and how this might influence health and even cause obesity.

"Electric light allowed humans to override an ancient synchronization between the rhythm of the human clock and the environment, and over the last century, daily rhythms in meal, sleep and working times have gradually disappeared from our lives," said Wyse. "The human clock struggles to remain tuned to our highly irregular lifestyles, and I believe that this causes metabolic and other health problems, and makes us more likely to become obese."

"Studies in microbes, plants and animals have shown that synchronization of the internal clock with environmental rhythms is important for health and survival, and it is highly likely that this is true in humans as well."

The human clock is controlled by our genes, and the research also suggests that some people may be more at risk of the effects of circadian desynchrony than others. For example, humans originating from Equatorial regions may have clocks that are very regular, which might be more sensitive to the effects of circadian desynchrony.

Shiftwork, artificial light and the 24-hour lifestyle of the developed world mean that circadian desynchrony is now an inevitable part of 21st century life. Nevertheless, we can help to maintain healthy circadian rhythms by keeping regular meal times, uninterrupted night-time sleep in complete darkness, and by getting plenty of sunlight during daylight hours.

Dr. Wyse believes that circadian desynchrony affects human health by disrupting the systems in the brain that regulate metabolism, leading to an increased likelihood of developing obesity and diabetes.

"The reason for the relatively sudden increase in global obesity in the developed world seems to be more complicated than simply just diet and physical activity. There are other factors involved, and circadian desynchrony is one that deserves further attention."

"Our 24-hour society has come at the high price of circadian desynchrony," concluded Wyse. "There are many factors driving mankind towards obesity but disrupted circadian rhythms should be considered alongside the usual suspects of diet and exercise."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Living against the clock; Does loss of daily rhythms cause obesity?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120829195119.htm>.
Wiley. (2012, August 29). Living against the clock; Does loss of daily rhythms cause obesity?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120829195119.htm
Wiley. "Living against the clock; Does loss of daily rhythms cause obesity?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120829195119.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins