Late Dinnertime Not Linked To Childhood Obesity Interview with:

Dr Gerda Pot Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences King’s College London | Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division | London UK

Dr. Gerda Pot

Dr Gerda Pot
Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences
King’s College London | Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine
Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division |
London UK What is the background for this study?

Dr. Pot: Previous evidence suggested that the timing of food intake can have a significant impact on circadian rhythms (i.e. the body’s internal clock) and therefore on metabolic processes within the body, potentially leading to an increased risk of being overweight or obese. However, the evidence from studies in children is very limited so we set out to establish whether this risk was also associated with the timing of children’s evening meals. What are the main findings?

Dr. Pot: Statistical analysis of the data showed no greater risk of being obese or overweight when eating dinner between 8pm and 10pm compared to eating between 2pm and 8pm for either of the age groups studied.

The findings of our study are surprising. We expected to find an association between eating later and being more likely to be overweight but actually found that this was not the case. This may be due to the limited number of children consuming their evening meal after 8pm in this cohort. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Pot: The new findings suggest there is currently insufficient evidence to support expanding dietary recommendations to include advice on when as well as what children eat. However, childhood obesity is a major public health issue and current advice is to improve dietary quality and increase physical activity to reduce the risk of becoming overweight and help to reverse excess weight gain. More research is needed to investigate the influence of the timing of eating on childhood obesity. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Pot: Alongside changes in dietary quality and levels of physical activity, meal timing is one of many possible factors that has been suggested as influencing the trends in weight gain seen in children in the UK. However, the significance of its role is under-researched. As this is one of the first studies investigating this link, it would be useful to repeat the analysis in other studies. We are currently also using data from this survey to look at another important aspect of children’s food habits, the consumption of breakfast, to investigate the impact of eating breakfast on children’s daily calorie intake and overall dietary quality. And we are conducting analyses on the impact of sleep on obesity. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Janine D. Coulthard, Gerda K. Pot. The timing of the evening meal: how is this associated with weight status in UK children?British Journal of Nutrition, 2016; 115 (09): 1616 DOI: 1017/S0007114516000635

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on May 18, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD