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Never satisfied? Late-night binges might be brain's fault

Never satisfied? Late-night binges might be brain's fault

(Christopher Boswell/

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PROVO — Do you ever wonder why you can’t sleep until you’ve had that second helping of dinner or bowl (or two) of ice cream?

Late-night cravings affect millions of people, but it might not be your fault that you never feel quite satisfied no matter how many Oreos you eat. According to a new BYU study, different areas of the brain don’t register “food highs” while eating in the evening.

“You might over-consume at night because food is not as rewarding, at least visually at that time of day,” lead author Travis Masterson said in a press release. “It may not be as satisfying to eat at night so you eat more to try to get satisfied.”

The study, published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, used MRI scans to measure how brains respond to high- and low-calorie food images at different times of the day. High-calorie foods generated spikes in brain activity, but the spikes were lower in the evening.


“We thought the responses would be greater at night because we tend to over-consume later in the day,” said study co-author Lance Davidson, a BYU professor of exercise sciences. “But just to know that the brain responds differently at different times of day could have implications for eating.”

Knowing you’re never going to be fully satisfied no matter what could help people to stop raiding the fridge at night, the study noted.

Late-night snacking has been linked to obesity, according to a 2013 study. Another study in 2013 found that late-night snacking can disrupt learning and memory, reported.

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Tracie Snowder


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