Pregnant women should avoid night eating to remain healthy, according to a study. (Source: Getty Images)
Consuming food after 7 pm and having a poor diet during pregnancy can be harmful since it can lead to weight gain, researchers found.
According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, pregnant women are three times more likely to experience postpartum weight retention of five kg or more, 18 months after giving birth.
Postpartum weight retention was observed when predominantly night eating was practiced with higher diet quality, in comparison to those who ate predominantly during the day and had a lower diet quality. The study also said that night eating could be potentially more damaging than lower diet quality in leading to weight retention.
The study was conducted by researchers from KK Women's and Children's Hospital, who drew data from a largescale birth cohort study.
"Our research, based on multi-ethnic Asian women, shows that although predominantly night eating and lower diet quality have been independently linked with weight gain, practicing night eating along with low diet quality demonstrated the greatest likelihood of substantial postpartum weight gain and retention even after 18 months," said study lead author Loy See Ling.
The researchers claimed there was evidence to show that retaining more weight after the first year of giving birth is associated with higher body mass index even at 15 years postpartum.
Retaining weight after childbearing, the study suggested, was more harmful than that in other stages of life as the retained body fat is typically deposited in the abdomen (visceral fat) rather than in other parts of the body. This can also impact the woman's subsequent pregnancies.
"Our body systems have evolved to metabolise food during the day and rest during the night. Hence, consuming more calories at night than day mismatches our body's natural body time clock by disrupting the metabolic rhythm in various organs such as liver, stomach, pancreas, fat tissue, resulting in disruption of energy metabolism," study researcher Fabian Yap was quoted as saying.