Late Risers Eat More Fat and Sugar In Evening Interview with:
Mirkka Maukonen

MSc (nutrition), PhD Candidate
the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Public Health Solutions
Helsinki, Finland What is the background for this study?

Response: Recent literature has highlighted the importance of sleep and circadian rhythms in development of obesity and metabolic dysfunctions. Furthermore, it has been suggested that in addition to quality of the diet also meal timing may play role in development of obesity. For example, skipping breakfast and eating at later times in the evening have been associated with higher BMI. However, little is known about how the timing of circadian rhythms (chronotype) affects timing of energy intake and its association with metabolic health. What are the main findings?

Response: We found that evening types had postponed timing of energy and macronutrient intakes. No differences were found in overall daily energy intake, but the timing of energy intake differed, so that evening types had a lower energy intake in the morning hours and higher in the evening hours. Evening types had also higher intakes of sucrose, fat and saturated fatty acids in the evening hours. Furthermore, on weekends, the discrepancies between the morning and evening types were more pronounced, and evening types had more irregular meal times and twice as many eating occasions. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our study may provide a new perspective on why someone is more likely to make less healthy food choices or diet decisions. As seen in our study, evening types ate less in the morning hours and also during the day, and it could be that this may lead to meals and snacks with more sugar and fat in the evening hours. Further, these less favorable dietary patterns of evening types may give them higher odds for obesity and metabolic disturbances. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Our next step is to study whether there are differences in the association between energy intake timing and obesity markers by chronotype. Also, macronutrient intake timing in relation to metabolic health is a topic that requires further study.

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Maukonen, M., Kanerva, N., Partonen, T., Kronholm, E., Tapanainen, H., Kontto, J. and Männistö, S. (2017), Chronotype differences in timing of energy and macronutrient intakes: A population-based study in adults. Obesity, 25: 608–615. doi: 10.1002/oby.21747

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