The prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to rise worldwide and is reaching pandemic proportions. The notion that this is due to obesity, resulting from excessive energy consumption and reduced physical activity, is overly simplistic. Circadian de-synchrony, which occurs when physiological processes are at odds with timing imposed by internal clocks, also promotes obesity and impairs glucose tolerance in mouse models, and is a feature of modern human lifestyles. The purpose of this review is to highlight what is known about glucose metabolism in animal and human models of circadian de-synchrony and examine the evidence as to whether shifts in meal timing contribute to impairments in glucose metabolism, gut hormone secretion and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Lastly, we examine whether restricting food intake to discrete time periods, will prevent or reverse abnormalities in glucose metabolism with the view to improving metabolic health in shift workers and in those more generally at risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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