Can Light Exposure Cause Weight Gain? Some Say...Maybe?
The road to weight loss is a long, winding, and often rocky road for most people. You follow all the right plans, dieting and exercising, but still unable to lose weight and in some cases even gaining. Until recently there werent many other factors to consider other than caloric intake, exercise, and metabolism. A recent study performed at The Ohio State University, and published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seeks to suggest a factor that you might never expect: night time light exposure. A lab test involving mice that were exposed to dim light at night over roughly 60 days gained 50% more body mass than ones who were subjected to a normal cycle of light and dark. They were fed the same amount of food, and shared the same levels of activity, and yet the group with the night time lighting appeared to get fatter. The lighting seemed to have the most effect in that even though they didnt eat any more food than the other group; they were eating at times when they normally wouldnt. In fact, as a control they were scheduled a precise feeding time instead of having food to eat whenever they were hungry. When this was the case, they did not gain more weight. Now, the idea of lighting having an effect on weight gain may very well sound preposterous at first. However, after looking closer at the science of metabolism it makes a little more sense. The researchers believe that these dim levels of light have an effect on melatonin, a hormone that has important function in metabolism. They also believe that being exposed to light at night can disrupt genes that control when animals are active and when they eat. Things that contribute to light exposure at night like TV and computer use have long been theorized to play a part in weight gain and obesity; however they are now being scrutinized from a different perspective. Before, the lack of physical activity that resulted from prolonged hours of TV watching and computer use at night was viewed as the main risk for obesity. With this new research it may be possible that the light exposure and opportunity for eating at the wrong times to properly metabolize the food could be as much or more to blame. This data cant be misconstrued as just turn off the lights and youll lose weight, but it can help some of the people who do everything else theyre supposed to and still struggle.