Weekend Habit That Increases Obesity Risk

Weekend Habit That Increases Obesity Risk
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By Joshua Tresvalles, Medical Daily

Saturdays and Sundays may be good days for you to rest and relax after days of work, but that can also mean following a different schedule from the one you use every Monday to Friday, one which involve habits that can affect your health and lifestyle. 

Weekend Habit That Increases Obesity Risk
© huettenhoelscher/Getty Images

These habits include inconsistent eating schedules over the weekend, which were labeled by researchers at the University of Barcelona as "eating jet lag" in a recent study that found that they can lead to higher body mass index (BMI) levels. While yet to be proven as the perfect health indicator, research shows that the formula that uses a person's weight and height determines the risk of obesity as well as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease; the higher the level, the higher the risk.

The study, which was published on MDPI's Nutrients journal, studied over 1,000 Spanish and Mexicans between the ages of 18 and 22, comparing the participants' BMI with changes in eating times throughout the weekend. It involved checking the times they typically eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, as opposed to those on a typical weekday. The "jet lag" is then defined as a difference of more than 3.5 hours when compared to meals eaten from Mondays to Fridays. It was then found that participants who had experienced eating jet lag had higher risk of obesity, having an average BMI increase of 1.34 kilograms (about 3 pounds) per square meter. 

Weekend Habit That Increases Obesity Risk

The study then linked eating jet lag and obesity with what is called Chronodisruption, which is a disconnect between one's body clock and social life. Chronodisruption is the most frequent cause of sleeping disorders, which include insomnia, and is also linked to certain types of cancer. Trinitat Cambras, head researcher and co-author of the study, said that the body clock "is like a machine," ready "to unchain the same physiological and metabolic response at the same time of the day, every day of the week." She then concluded that "people with a higher alteration of their schedules have a higher risk of obesity."

While the authors of the study said that more research is needed to examine the link between eating jet lag and obesity, they are still searching for the physiological mechanisms behind eating jet lag that contribute to higher BMI levels, which translate to greater obesity risk in turn. They also urged people to maintain a proper and consistent eating and sleeping schedule in the meantime.

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