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Hormones could cause evening overeating

Scientists confirm that hunger-stimulating hormones rise in the evening, especially with stress

A study has found that the hormones that cause us to feel hungry rise in the evening and the hormones that make us feel full decrease, possibly explaining why people tend to overeat later in the day. Stress and a tendency to binge eat were also found to increase evening hunger levels.

Eating late

Eating late in the day is common and stress is known to influence eating patterns, but little is understood about how time of day and stress interact to affect appetite.

This study overseen by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was designed to investigate how stress might affect hunger urges later in the day, especially in people with binge eating disorder.

Measuring hormones

The researchers conducted a series of experiments with a group of 19 men and 13 women aged between 18 and 50. All participants were overweight and half had binge eating disorder.

After fasting for eight hours, participants received a liquid meal at either 9am or 4pm, followed by a clinical stress test.

Around 30 minutes after the stress test, participants were offered a buffet that included pizzas, crisps, cookies and sweets. They were asked to rate how hungry and full they felt, and had blood taken so that their stress and hunger hormones could be measured.

Evening effects

Overall, the researchers found that people were hungrier and less full in the evening than in the morning. Levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates appetite) were found to be higher in the evening compared with the morning, while levels of PYY (a hormone that reduces appetite) were lower.

After the stress test, overall levels of ghrelin were higher in the evening, suggesting that stress may impact this hunger hormone more in the evening than during the day.

Interestingly, people with binge eating disorder had higher levels of ghrelin and felt less full in the evenings compared with those without the disorder.

Behaviour change

The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, indicate that people are more likely to overeat in the evening due to changes in hunger hormones, and that stress and pre-existing binge eating may exacerbate the risk. The researchers feel that this knowledge could help people to modify their behaviour to pre-empt overeating.

This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Healthcare unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Healthcare.

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