Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Light at night makes us fat.

...at least that is what experiments on mice done by Fonken et al. suggest.  The experiments were motivated by wondering whether the global increase in obesity that is occurring might be related to the extended night time light exposure that goes with our modern life style and is known to disrupt the biological clocks that regulate our energy metabolism.  Their abstract is worth reading:
The global increase in the prevalence of obesity and metabolic disorders coincides with the increase of exposure to light at night (LAN) and shift work. Circadian regulation of energy homeostasis is controlled by an endogenous biological clock that is synchronized by light information. To promote optimal adaptive functioning, the circadian clock prepares individuals for predictable events such as food availability and sleep, and disruption of clock function causes circadian and metabolic disturbances. To determine whether a causal relationship exists between nighttime light exposure and obesity, we examined the effects of LAN on body mass in male mice. Mice housed in either bright (LL) or dim (DM) LAN have significantly increased body mass and reduced glucose tolerance compared with mice in a standard (LD) light/dark cycle, despite equivalent levels of caloric intake and total daily activity output. Furthermore, the timing of food consumption by DM and LL mice differs from that in LD mice. Nocturnal rodents typically eat substantially more food at night; however, DM mice consume 55.5% of their food during the light phase, as compared with 36.5% in LD mice. Restricting food consumption to the active phase in DM mice prevents body mass gain. These results suggest that low levels of light at night disrupt the timing of food intake and other metabolic signals, leading to excess weight gain. These data are relevant to the coincidence between increasing use of light at night and obesity in humans.


  1. I take melatonin most evenings, but wtf would you choose a nocturnal test animal?

  2. Anonymous12:47 PM

    I am not as hungry at night, however...

  3. Is there a type of light that our body does not respond to the same..for example red light?

    I would love to know as it would be amazing to find some wavelength that didnt effect our body like normal light so we could still walk around and function during the day.

  4. Is there some type of gentle appetite suppressant we can take during the night hours to keep our digestive cravings in check in order to combat this effect?