Mum was right! Eating earlier in the evening is better for your waist. Even if you eat very little throughout the day tests have shown that midnight raids on the refrigerator may have worse consequences than indigestion.

Midnight raids on the refrigerator may have worse consequences than indigestion – a study in mice boosts the theory that when you eat affects whether the calories go to your hips or get burned off. Mice when they normally would be sleeping gained more weight than mice fed at normal ‘awake’ times, Fred Turek of Northwestern University in Illinois and colleagues found.

They ended up weighing 7.8 per cent more than awake-time fed mice. This held even though the mice were fed identical amounts of food and exercised the same amount, they said in the study published on Friday in the International Journal of Obesity.

“Simply modifying the time of feeding alone can greatly affect body weight,” they wrote. “Mice fed a high-fat diet only during the ‘right’ feeding time (ie, during awake times) weigh significantly less than mice fed only during the time when feeding is normally reduced (ie, during sleep times).”

The finding might help people trying to lose weight, the researchers said. It may be possible to simply change the timing of meals and snacks, they said. That could mean eating more in the daytime and cutting back on the late-night ice cream.

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