Feeding Time

The eating schedule—and not the amount of calories—can make the difference between an obese, diabetic, sick mouse and one with a healthy metabolism.

Kerry Grens
Kerry Grens
Feb 1, 2013


GO TO SLEEP: Mice that feed when they’re supposed to be sleeping are more likely to gain weight than those on diets following normal circadian cycles.© WALTRAUD GRUBITZSCH/EPA/CORBIS

The paper
M. Hatori et al., “Time-restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high-fat diet,” Cell Metab, 15:848-60, 2012.

The finding
Circadian disruptions can prime animals toward obesity, but does the maintenance of diurnal eating rhythms prevent excess weight gain? Satchidananda Panda at the Salk Institute and his colleagues found that mice fed a high-fat diet only during normal waking hours staved off obesity, metabolic dysfunction, and liver damage—all of which plagued animals with access to food around the clock.
The differences
Both groups ate the same number of calories, but after 18 weeks, the free-feeding mice weighed about 45 grams, compared to about 33 grams...