The importance of the circadian rhythm in regulating human food intake behaviour and metabolism has long been recognised. However, little is known as to how energy intake is distributed over the day in existing populations, and its potential association with obesity. The present review describes global trends in time-of-day of energy intake in the general population based on data from cross-sectional surveys and longitudinal cohorts. Evidence of the association between time-of-day of energy intake and obesity is also summarised. Overall, there were a limited number of cross-sectional surveys and longitudinal cohorts that provided data on time-of-day of energy intake. In the identified studies, a wide variation in time-of-day of energy intake was observed, with patterns of energy distribution varying greatly by country and geographical area. In relation to obesity, eight cross-sectional surveys and two longitudinal cohorts were identified. The association between time-of-day of energy intake and obesity varied widely, with several studies reporting a positive link between evening energy intake and obesity. In conclusion, the current review summarises global trends in time-of-day of energy intake. The large variations across countries and global regions could have important implications to health, emphasising the need to understand the socio-environmental factors guiding such differences in eating patterns. Evidence of the association between time-of-day of energy intake and BMI also varied. Further larger scale collaborations between various countries and regions are needed to sum data from existing surveys and cohorts, and guide our understanding of the role of chrono-nutrition in health.
Keywords: TEI total daily energy intake; Chrono-nutrition; Circadian rhythms; Obesity; Temporal trends.