Night owls may have an increased risk of chronic diseases

Lausanne, Switzerland 3rd December 2018. Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings.

The body and its functions operate on a 24-hour cycle, which is regulated by an internal clock system known as the circadian rhythm. This determines the optimal timing of key physiological processes including when one should sleep, eat and perform physical activity. Individual adherence to the circadian rhythm is greatly influenced by an individual’s chronotype i.e. whether one has a preference towards being an early bird (morning chronotype) or a night owl (evening chronotype).

A new publication lead by Nestlé Research, in collaboration with academics from Northumbria University (UK), University of Surrey (UK), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK), Plymouth Marjon University (UK), École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), University Medical Center Rotterdam (Netherland), Örebro University (Sweden) and the National University of Singapore, looked at current research on chronotype, to determine its association with dietary intake behaviours and health.

The review found that individuals with an evening chronotype are more likely to have a lower intake of fruits and vegetables, and higher intake of energy-drinks, sugary and caffeinated beverages, as well as a higher intake of energy from fats. Such dietary behaviours are linked to increased blood pressure, impaired glucose and lipid handling, which in turn are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

Although this is a relatively new area of research, the evidence suggest that it could be possible to develop tailored dietary strategies that can help prevent and manage chronic diseases based on one’s chronotype.

About NIHS:

NIHS is a biomedical research institute, part of Nestlé’s global R&D network, dedicated to fundamental research aimed at understanding health and disease and developing science-based, targeted nutritional solutions for the maintenance of health. To achieve its aim, NIHS employs state-of-the-art technologies and biological models to characterise health and disease with a holistic and integrated approach. The ultimate goal of the Institute is to develop knowledge that can empower people to better maintain their health through nutritional approaches, especially in relation to their molecular profile and lifestyle status.


Almoosawi S, Vingeliene S, Gachon F, Voortman T, Palla L, Johnston JD, Martinus Van Dam R, Darimont C, Karagounis LG (2018). Chronotype: Implications for Epidemiologic Studies on Chrono-Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Health. Advances in Nutrition. (2018)

For enquiries, please contact:
Laura Camurri, Communications, NIHS

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