The upstream mediator is disruption of the circadian system. More downstream is melatonin suppression and phase shifting which promote nutrient anti-partitioning, late eating patterns, mindlessly poorer food choices, etc., etc.
Don't get me wrong, sunlight in the morning and during the day is great... it's even protective against artificial light at night (ALAN)-induced melatonin suppression... it's just this ALAN we're talking about.
Obesity is almost doubled in people who sleep with the lights on at night. I have no idea how this happens, maybe by accident, or they just fall asleep reading or something. But for whatever reason, risk of obesity = doubled.
Environmental light pollution. Street lights shining through your bedroom window at night. No bueno.
Healthy humans exposed to ALAN under controlled experimental conditions designed to disrupt their circadian rhythms exhibit suppressed melatonin, increased appetite, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance... independent of sleep loss. All of these effects are reversed by removal of ALAN.
BLUE LIGHT FILTERS ON YOUR SMART DEVICES!
The associations between artificial light at night and obesity are still present after adjusting for age, socioeconomic status, alcohol consumption, strenuous physical activity, night shift work, having kids, sleep duration, smoking status...
Remember those graphs showing the correlation of various foods or macronutrients with the obesity rates?
[not exactly, light pollution projected to 2025, but you get the point]
Oversimplified MOA infographic:
Exposure to artificial light at night has well-documented effects on metabolic functions including decreased glucose tolerance and increased insulin resistance. Melatonin suppression facilitates the uptake of n6-fatty acids and conversion to 13-HODE by tumor cells.
The effects of artificial light at night on appetite and insulin resistance can be prevented!
That's all for now!
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