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Salk Study May Offer Drug-Free Intervention To Prevent Obesity

Above: Satchidananda Panda, associate professor in the Salk’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory and senior author of the paper Megumi Hatori, a postdoctoral researcher in Panda’s laboratory and a first author of the study.

Aired 5/17/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Dr. Sanchidananda, lead author of study at Salk Institute for Biological Studies


Images of liver tissues showing the difference in fat accumulation between tw...
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Above: Images of liver tissues showing the difference in fat accumulation between two groups of mice fed a high-fat diet. Higher levels of fat from a mouse allowed to eat 24 hours a day had much higher levels of liver fat (shown in white), than restricted to an 8-hour feeding window as seen on right.

You may want to think twice when you head to the refrigerator for that late night snack. New research at Salk Institute finds when you eat may be just as important as what you eat. Researchers at Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that regular eating times extend the daily fasting period and may override the adverse effects of a high-fat diet. Dr. Sanchidananda Panda who led the study says in their research on mice, on they saw lower cholesterol, body fat and glucose levels when they regulated the amount of time the mice were fed. This is in spite of the fact that the two groups of mice were fed high-fat diets. (The other group of mice were allowed to eat the same amount of food over a 24-hour period)

"It's a dogma that a high-fat diet leads to obesity and that we should eat frequently when we are awake," says Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory and senior author of the paper. "Our findings, however, suggest that regular eating times and fasting for a significant number of hours a day might be beneficial to our health."

Dr. Panda tells KPBS metabolic studies on mice transfer well to humans, so the next step is to determine if humans will have the same results when limiting the amount of time a day we eat to 10-12 hours a day, allowing our body to naturally fast and recharge.

The study is published in Cell Metabolism.

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