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OHSU scientists dispel late-night eating/weight gain myth

PORTLAND, Ore. Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University believe they have helped dispel the myth that late-night eating causes weight gain. The research is published in the current edition of the journal Obesity Research.

Weve all been told at one point in our lives that we should avoid eating meals late at night as it will lead to weight gain. However, our research in rhesus monkeys, which are considered an excellent model for studying primate (man and monkey) obesity issues, showed that eating at night is no more likely to promote weight gain than eating during the day. Of course this research does not suggest that snacking at night after eating your normal daily ration of calories is a good idea, said Judy Cameron, Ph.D., a senior scientist in the Divisions of Reproductive Sciences and Neuroscience at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center. Cameron also is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

To conduct this research, scientists studied 16 female rhesus monkeys that were placed on a high-fat diet similar in composition to the diet normally consumed by humans in the United States and other Western countries. During the study, all of the monkeys had their ovaries removed this simulates a menopause-like state in female monkeys similar to human female menopause. In lower animals both high fat diet and decreased ovarian function lead to weight gain. The contribution of menopause to weight gain in middle-aged women has not been well established, perhaps because many other life style changes generally occur during this period of life, such as changes in eating habits and exercise habits as children grow up and leave home. In this study monkeys did gain about 5% more weight after their ovaries were removed providing clear evidence that ovarian hormones contribute to weight balance in primates, as well as in lower animals.


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Contact: Jim Newman
newmanj@ohsu.edu
503 494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
1-Feb-2006


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