Date
20 August 2017
Hongkongers like a feast at midnight to compensate for long hours of work in the day while few have spared a thought for its adverse health impact. Photo: Internet
Hongkongers like a feast at midnight to compensate for long hours of work in the day while few have spared a thought for its adverse health impact. Photo: Internet

The trouble with late-night dinners

Given the fact that Hongkongers spend notoriously long hours at work, they tend to have their meals delayed, and late-night meals are very popular with many.

How do these eating habits affect our health?

Late dinner, as defined in most clinical research studies, refers to the main meal taken within two hours before sleep, while a late-night meal generally refers to the additional meal taken later than 10 p.m.

Research conducted in Sweden found that the chance of people who have dinner late to develop obesity is 62 percent higher than those who take it on time.

A large-scale study in Japan showed that those who do late supper and skip breakfast are more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome.

According to a 2013 United States study on male medical professionals, those who eat before sleep see 55 percent higher chances to develop cardiovascular diseases.

Possible reasons for the findings were those who practise such late eating habits already have heavier body weight and higher levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose.

As a matter of fact, not only late dinner is problematic, delaying lunch also adversely affects the blood glucose control by the body.

In a controlled experiment, 32 healthy women with their body weight in normal range were divided into two groups.

One had lunch at 1 p.m. while the other did so at 4:30 p.m. The level of postprandial blood glucose of women who did delayed lunch is 46 percent higher than their peers who had the same portion of the meal at 1 p.m.

A piece of good news is that health could be restored as soon as good eating habit is practised. A group of men who used to have late dinner and took dinner before 7 p.m. in a controlled experiment lost weight by 0.4 kilograms on average in two weeks. Those who ate late dinner gained weight by 0.7kg.

That said, it is crucial to get into a regular eating schedule, and it is easier than you think.

Fix the mealtime and separate the three main meals by roughly the same hours.

Supper should be kept light and avoid eating two hours before sleep.

Late-night meals should be banned, but breakfast should never be skipped.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 28

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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