Free feeding (FF) with a high fat diet (HFD) causes excessive body weight gain, whereas restricted feeding (RF) with a HFD attenuates body weight gain. The effects of timing of feeding with a HFD (day vs. night) and feeding duration on energy homeostasis have not yet been investigated. In this study, we fed mice a HFD or a normal diet (ND) twice a day, during their active and inactive periods, on a schedule. The amount of food was regulated by feeding duration (2, 4 or 8 h). First, we investigated the effects of 4-h RF during active-inactive periods (ND-ND, HFD-HFD, ND-HFD or HFD-ND). Among all the 4-h RF groups, mice consumed almost the same amount of calories as those in the FF[ND] group, even those fed a HFD. Body weight and visceral fat in these three groups were lower than that in the FF[HFD] group. Second, we investigated the effects of RF duration. Body weight and visceral fat were higher in the 8-h groups than in the 4-h groups. Body weight and visceral fat were higher in the 2-h groups than in the 4-h groups even though the 2-h groups had less food. Third, we investigated the effects of eating a HFD during the inactive period, when RF duration was extended (2, 6 or 12 h). Mice were fed with a HFD during the inactive period for 2 h and fed with a ND during the active period for 2, 6 or 12 h. Body weight and visceral fat in these mice were comparable to those in the FF[ND] mice. The results of our first set of experiments suggest that 4-h RF was an adequate feeding duration to control the effect of a HFD on obesity. The results of our second set of experiments suggest 2-h RF (such as speed-eating) and 8-h RF, representative of eating disorders, are unhealthy feeding patterns related to obesity. The results of our third set of experiments suggest that eating a HFD for a short period during the night does not affect body weight and visceral fat. Taken together, these results indicate that consideration to feeding with a HFD during the inactive period and restricting eating habits relieve the risks of body weight gain and visceral fat accumulation.
Keywords: Circadian rhythm; high fat diet; liver; night eating; period; phase.