Turn Off the Light, It’s Making Me Fat

Light at night (LAN) appears to be a growing phenomenon that is invading our bedrooms. Linking clues from animal studies to epidemiology from more than 100,000 women in the Breakthrough Generations  study, scientists at Oxford have found reason to suspect that LAN exposure might be contributing to obesity.

They found that the odds of obesity increased significantly with exposure to LAN, even after accounting for confounding factors of sleep duration, alcohol intake, physical activity, and smoking.

Their finding is consistent with animal studies showing that LAN exposure can disrupt sleep and circadian rhythms enough to cause weight gain. Sleep is well understood to be an important factor for maintaining healthy weight.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is on the case. They are calling on citizen-scientists to join them in their quest to protect the night sky against light pollution. According to the IDA,

Light pollution not only impairs our view of the Universe, it hurts the planet by increasing energy consumption, wasting money and harming the health and safety of humans and wildlife.

Move over Big Sugar. Big Light might soon be getting some credit for the obesity epidemic.

Click here to read the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Click here and here to read more from the BBC.

Sleep, photograph © Rigmarole / flickr

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