It's always the same. You've come back from a hard day at work and eaten your dinner. Now it's time for bed and you know you shouldn't want any more food... but that chocolate donut is tempting you from the kitchen counter. Why do the late-night munchies hit us so hard? Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore have found an answer.
The International Journal of Obesity published a report on how the evening hours affect people's eating habits. It turns out that in the evening, the "hunger hormones" in our body rise, while the number of "satiety hormones" falls. Stress also factors into the equation; if you're more stressed, you become even hungrier after the sun sets.
I just want scientists to figure out how restaurants can teleport food directly to my home. My late night snack game would be absolute gold.— Rachel Peters (@RachelOPeters) January 6, 2014
The researchers conducted their experiment on 32 individuals between the ages of 18 and 50, with body mass indexes ranging from 28 to 52 (a BMI above 30 is considered obese). As part of the program, participants fasted for eight hours. Then, after receiving a 608-calorie "liquid meal" in the morning and late afternoon, their blood was tested for hunger and stress hormones. After all of this, the participants were offered a buffet of delicious foods and asked how hungry they feel. Each indicator signaled that the test subjects were significantly hungrier during their evening session.
I think ima eat a late night snack tonight . I’m sorry in advance stomach— jay (@jaysuswalks) January 24, 2018
Dr. Sarah Carnell, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, commented on their findings:
Our findings suggest that evening is a high-risk time for overeating, especially if you’re stressed and already prone to binge eating. The good news is that having this knowledge, people could take steps to reduce their risk of overeating by eating earlier in the day, or finding alternative ways to deal with stress.
My late night munchies are reallllllll rn but i really don’t wanna brush my teeth again so i lowkey just wanna go to sleep but it’s all i can think about😂😅— Kailyn (@Kailyn_nichole) January 24, 2018
The study ultimately attributed our late night munchies to increased hunger hormones, though it also noted that people with a history of binge eating may be more susceptible to the influence of these hormones. These findings could prove helpful in curbing obesity. In 2017, nearly 27% of British people had a BMI above 30, which represents a 92% increase since the 1990s.