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Tuesday
Oct122010

Light Exposure at Night Could Lead to Weight Gain

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Being consistently exposed to light at night could result in weight gain, even without changes to physical activity or food consumption, according to a new study of mice.  According to ScienceDaily, researchers found mice gained roughly 50 percent more body mass when they were exposed to dim lighting at night over the span of eight weeks.

"Although there were no differences in activity levels or daily consumption of food, the mice that lived with light at night were getting fatter than the others," said Laura Fonken, the study's lead author and a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.

Researchers suggest the weight gain could be attributed to eating schedules.  Mice exposed to the nighttime lighting ate at times they normally wouldn't.  When food was restricted to normal eating times, the mice didn't gain anymore weight than mice living under a regular light-dark cycle.

"Something about light at night was making the mice in our study want to eat at the wrong times to properly metabolize their food," said Randy Nelson, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience and psychology at Ohio State.

If the findings hold true for humans, it would suggest eating late at night could be a potential risk factor for obesity, Nelson said.

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