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How seasons affect metabolism

A new study shows that the number of hours of light exposure is linked to how people eat and burn energy

A new highlighted eating habits in winter may be better for our metabolic health. (Pexels)

By Team Lounge

LAST PUBLISHED 18.10.2023  |  03:30 PM IST

It’s often assumed that during summer and spring, as the sun shines and people soak up the essential Vitamin D, they might also be healthier. However, a new study shows that eating habits in winter may be better for metabolic health. 

The study, led by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, found that that differences in light hours between summer and winter can lead to differences in energy metabolism. The study conducted the experiment on mice and found that they had less body weight gain and adiposity during winter. “They have more rhythmicity in the way they eat over 24 hours. And this then led to benefits in metabolic health," says Lewin Small, who conducted the study. 

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While previous studies have examined the influence of the time of day on aspects of metabolism such as exercise, obesity, and diabetes most that investigate this do so assuming an equal length of day and night all year round, Small explains. Hence, they wanted to find out how the seasonal light differences impact metabolism, the statement. Globally, most people live with at least a two-hour difference in light between summer and winter.

These findings are important to investigate the eating patterns of people affected by the changes in light and seasons. This can help understand why some people gain more weight or if people gain more weight during a specific time of year. “Differences in light between summer and winter could affect our hunger pathways and when we get hungry during the day," Small adds. The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Previous studies have assessed the link between light exposure and health. Earlier this month, findings presented this week at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes showed that exposure to natural light improves metabolism and blood sugar control. It could prevent type 2 diabetes alongside a healthy diet and exercise, Medical News Today reports.

Hence, research shows that exposure to light has a significant impact on people’s health including metabolism.

 Also read: How exercise can improve metabolism