Working in shifts makes you fat: a new confirmation

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Tendency to gain weight? It is also the fault of night work. In fact, people who work at night burn less energy over the course of 24 hours than those who work more regularly. And it is this that increases the risk of weight gain and obesity


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Tendency to gain weight? It is also the fault of night work. In fact, people who work shifts burn less energy over the course of 24 hours than those who work more regularly. And it is this that increases the risk of weight gain and obesity in the long run.

Altering the sleep-wake rhythm in fact involves profound changes, which involve man down to his most elementary "ingredients", in the DNA. Whether it is insomnia or the need to stay awake for work reasons, the result is that you reverse circadian rhythms it also has significant repercussions on ours weight. To support it is a new one study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder. Researchers have found that people who work - and therefore eat - at night, when their bodies are biologically predisposed to sleep, are prone to putting on pounds. But the reasons are not entirely clear.

For the new study, published in PNAS, 14 healthy adults they spent 6 days at Colorado Hospital. For the first two days, participants followed a normal schedule where they slept at night and stayed awake during the day. Then they switched to a three day shift work schedule where their routine was reversed.

They explain scientists that when people were at work, in most cases their daily energy expenditure was reduced if the activity was carried out at night. During the experiment, the participants' meals were carefully controlled, giving them the same amount of food they would normally eat at home to keep their weight constant. When the participants switched to the shift work program, their meal times changed, but the total amount of calories remained the same. Participants also had an equal opportunity to sleep for eight hours regardless of whether they were scheduled during the day or night.



Thus, the researchers found that the total daily energy used by the participants decreased when they did shift work. The reduction is likely related to the mismatch between the person's activities and their circadian clocks, said Kenneth Wright, author of the study. Humans have evolved to be awake and eat when it's light outside and sleep when it's dark. For this, the human circadian clock is set on exposure to sunlight. "Shift work goes against our fundamental biology," Wright said.

A new confirmation that comes after that supported by another research, released earlier this year, according to which to work at night it literally drives the genes crazy.

But more insights will be needed before we can say for sure if this is only due to sleep loss. For example, shift workers can take in more calories throughout the day. Again, the findings suggest that shift workers may be subject not only to weight gain but also to a changing composition of fat and muscle mass.



Francesca Mancuso

READ also:

Night work alters the Cicardian rhythm and drives the genes crazy

Little sleep alters DNA

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