Consequences of Late Night Eating

Nicole Gilbert

With busy work and school schedules, it is fairly likely that many people are eating dinner later in the day. This may not seem like a large problem, however studies show that delayed eating can cause weight gain, damage fat metabolism, as well as many other problems. Many studies show the consequences of a lack in sleep, which have now also been tied to eating late at night. As Namni Goel, a lead author in the study and professor of psychology, states, “Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers — such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.”

The Research

The study used nine average-weight adults who all underwent two conditions. The first lasted eight weeks in which they ate three meals and two snacks during daytime hours (between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.). The second condition consisted of eating three meals and two snacks during delayed hours (between 12 p.m. and 11 p.m.) for eight weeks. These two conditions occurred with a two week break in between them to make sure results didn’t carry over between the two and with a constant sleep period.

The nine individuals visited Penn’s Center for Human Phenomic Science to receive metabolic testings and get their blood drawn at the beginning of the study, after the first eight weeks, after the two week break period, and after the final eight weeks. By being tested, changes in weight, metabolism, and energy use were able to be detected.

The Findings

At the end of the study, the team discovered that when the participants ate later in the day, during the second eight week period, there was an increase in weight as well as a slower rate of metabolism. There were also increases in insulin, glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. In the first eight week period where the participants ate earlier in the day, studies that analyzed hormone levels discovered that during this period suggested that the participants received hormonal signals to eat earlier which helped to repress hunger for longer. “This suggests that eating earlier may help prevent overeating in the evening and at night” (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine).

Relevance and Conclusion

This study is relevant to people everywhere, no matter gender, age, or any other traits, as it shows the importance and benefits of eating earlier in the day and also how the body processes foods at certain times. One author of the study, Kelly Allison, states, “While lifestyle change is never easy, these findings suggest that eating earlier in the day may be worth the effort to help prevent these detrimental chronic health effects.” There are many consequences to eating later in the day which can lead to long term health complications. From this study, one can learn the importance of curbing tempting midnight snacks and late dinners as there can be severe consequences.

Aanya Lall ‘19


University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “Timing meals later at night can cause weight gain and impair fat metabolism: Findings provide first experimental evidence of prolonged delayed eating versus daytime eating, showing that delayed eating can also raise insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2017. <>.


Leave your thought