The timing of food intake has been associated with obesity and adverse metabolic outcomes, independently of the amount or content of food intake and activity level. However, the impact of the variability in the timing of food intake between weekends and weekdays on BMI (body mass index) remains unexplored. To address that, we propose to study a marker of the variability of meal timing on weekends versus weekdays (denominated as ‘eating jet lag’) that could be associated with increments in BMI. This cross-sectional study included 1106 subjects (aged 18–25 years). Linear regression models were used to examine the associations of eating jet lag with BMI and circadian related variables (including chronotype, eating duration, sleep duration, and social jet lag). Subsequently, a hierarchical multivariate regression analysis was conducted to determine whether the association of eating jet lag with BMI was independent of potentially confounding variables (e.g., chronotype and social jet lag). Moreover, restricted cubic splines were calculated to study the shape of the association between eating jet lag and BMI. Our results revealed a positive association between eating jet lag and BMI (p
= 0.008), which was independent of the chronotype and social jet lag. Further analysis revealed the threshold of eating jet lag was of 3.5 h or more, from which the BMI could significantly increase. These results provided evidence of the suitability of the eating jet lag, as a marker of the variability in meal timing between weekends and weekdays, for the study of the influence of meal timing on obesity. In a long run, the reduction of the variability between meal timing on weekends versus weekdays could be included as part of food timing guidelines for the prevention of obesity among general population.
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