2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
As overweight and obesity rates in the US approach 70% in adults, experts are trying to determine the primary cause of this disastrous trend. It has recently been hypothesized that late night eating may be a significant contributor to weight gain-ultimately leading to obesity. Studies have shown that with today's society being so fast-paced and work-focused there has been an increase in late night consumption of food; this is especially true in college students who often study, socialize, and work late into the night. It is not uncommon for the typical college student to have to go to school all day, go to work, and then go home and write papers or study for a big exam. The relationship between late-night food consumption and weight gain was investigated in 195 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Kentucky. The subjects included 105 females (average age 23.0 ± 1.98 years) and 90 males (average age 23.9 ± 2.51 years), the majority of whom were either seniors or graduates. All of the students completed surveys regarding weight and eating habits after 10 pm. The results showed that 83% of the students reported regularly eating after 10 pm. Reasons that were reported for late night eating included not getting off work until late, being up late studying, being up late just watching television or movies, and alcohol induced hunger. Both males and females reported most commonly eating something salty or fatty. Due to the rising prevalence of obesity, it is important to educate individuals about related risk factors. Making people more aware will hopefully aid in the development of healthier eating habits and better lifestyle choices in attempt to combat America's weight gain epidemic.