To better streamline this process, the scientists created a term called “eating jet lag” to measure variability in eating habits during the weekend. To determine this marker, they looked at what time participants typically ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the weekend as compared to a typical weekday. The “jet lag” was classified as a difference of more than 3.5 hours when comparing meals across days of the week.
Researchers found that participants who experienced eating jet lag had a higher risk of obesity, with an average BMI increase of 1.34 kg/m2.
As an explanation for this link between obesity and eating jet lag, the authors of the study blame something called “chronodisruption,” where there is a lack of consistency between the body’s own internal time and the social time the person is experiencing.
“Our biological clock is like a machine, and is ready to unchain the same physiological and metabolic response at the same time of the day, every day of the week,” says head researcher Trinitat Cambras, Ph.D. “Fixed eating and sleep schedules help the body to be organized and promote energy homeostasis. Therefore, people with a higher alteration of their schedules have a higher risk of obesity.”