Chronotype and energy intake timing in relation to changes in anthropometrics: a 7-year follow-up study in adults

Chronobiol Int. 2019 Jan;36(1):27-41. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2018.1515772. Epub 2018 Sep 13.


Individuals with a later preference for the daily activities (evening types) tend to have unhealthier behaviors, which could increase their risk for obesity when compared those with an earlier preference (morning types). Furthermore, later food intake timing, another behavior more characteristic of evening types, has been associated with obesity. However, chronotype differences in the long-term weight change and the role of chronotype in the association between energy intake timing and obesity risk are not clear. To study this we first examined the independent associations of chronotype and energy intake timing with anthropometric changes and then whether chronotype modified the association between energy intake timing and obesity risk. Our data included 1097 Finns from DILGOM (DIetary Lifestyle and Genetic Determinants of Obesity and Metabolic syndrome) 2007 (baseline) and 2014 (follow-up) and from Findiet 2007. Chronotype was assessed with a shortened version of Horne and Östberg's morningness-eveningness questionnaire. Energy intake timing (as percentages of the total energy intake in the morning/evening) was assessed with 48-h dietary recalls. Weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference were based on measured and self-reported values. Analysis of co-variance and multivariable logistic regression models were used for statistical analyses. Evening typed women had greater weight gain (+ 2.3 kg vs. + 0.3 kg, P = 0.016) and increase in BMI (0.7 kg/m2 vs. -0.1 kg/m2, P = 0.024) than morning typed women. After excluding participants with depression, these associations attenuated to non-significant. Compared to participants whose energy intake was proportionally lowest during evening, those with proportionally highest energy intake during evening were more likely with obesity (BMI≥ 30 kg/m2) after follow-up (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.21-3.21, Ptrend = 0.042). Participants' chronotype did not modify this association (Pinteract = 0.95). In conclusion, our findings indicated that evening energy intake may play a role in obesity regardless of the chronotype. Furthermore, evening typed women were more prone to increases in their anthropometrics, which seem to be at least partly explained by depression. Further studies of this topic are warranted.

Keywords: Diet; circadian; diurnal; food intake timing; food patterns; meal timing; obesity; weight change.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Eating*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Gain