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Does Loss of Daily Rhythms Cause Obesity? University of Aberdeen Study


8/30/2012 7:38:38 AM

When Thomas Edison tested the first light bulb in 1879, he could never have imagined that his invention could one day contribute to a global obesity epidemic. Electric light allows us to work, rest and play at all hours of the day, and a paper published this week in Bioessays suggests that this might have serious consequences for our health and for our waistlines. Daily or "circadian" rhythms including the sleep wake cycle, and rhythms in hormone release are controlled by a molecular clock that is present in every cell of the human body. This human clock has its own inbuilt, default rhythm of almost exactly 24 hours that allows it to stay finely tuned to the daily cycle generated by the rotation of Earth. This beautiful symmetry between the human clock and the daily cycle of Earth's rotation is disrupted by exposure to artificial light cycles, and by irregular meal, work and sleep times. This mismatch between the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies and the environment is called "circadian desynchrony."

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