Sunlight exposure found to trigger increased eating in men

Sunlight exposure found to trigger increased eating in men
Solar exposure enhances the energy intake and metabolic profile of men compared to women. a, Dot plot of the monthly energy intake (Kcal per day), from 1999 to 2001, of 2,991 men (cyan blue) and women (pink) (top). Midline represents the median. Data are presented as mean ± SD. Men’s energy consumption was significantly higher during the summer (2,188 Kcal versus 1,875 Kcal, p < 0.001), while energy consumption in women remained constant (1,507 Kcal versus 1,475 Kcal, p = 0.795). Lower panel: Monthly average of direct solar radiation (KJ/m); yellow intensity reflects the radiation strength. b, Energy intake (Kcal per day) of men (top) and women (lower panel) in winter (October to February) and summer (March to September). Each individual participant is represented by a dot (summer: n = 556 men, n = 1,045 women; winter: n = 774 men, n = 616 women). Data are presented as mean ± SD. For the statistical analysis, unpaired t-test assuming unequal variance with Welch’s correction was performed. We found that men consume more calories during the summer than in the winter (p < 0.001), while the calorie intake of women was similar (p = 0.27) between the two seasons, demonstrating that only men are affected by the seasonal change. c, Proteomics analysis, shown as Proteomap, illustrates the functional categories of men (top) and women (bottom) blood plasma proteins before (left panel) and after (right) exposure to 2,000 mJ/cm2 solar UVB. Data presented in each polygon represents proteins in a single KEGG pathway with >2 fold change (n = 5 biologically independent human subjects per condition). d, Volcano plot of differentially expressed proteins in men (before/after solar UVB exposure) by log2 fold change; metabolic-related proteins are marked orange. e, Radar map of Gene Ontology enrichment of differentially expressed proteins identified by mass spectrometry analysis of blood plasma proteins from mice after UVB (50 mJ/cm2) or mock UVB (control) irradiation (n = 3 biologically independent mice per condition). Credit: Nature Metabolism (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-022-00587-9

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Israel, working with colleagues from Columbia University in the U.S. and the Institute for Diabetes and Obesity in Germany, has found that exposure to more sunlight over the summer leads to an increase in eating—but only in men. In their paper published in the journal Nature Metabolism, the group describes their study of data obtained from an Israeli health survey. Carlos Dieguez and Ruben Nogueiras with the University of Santiago de Compostela, published a News & Views piece in the same journal issue, outlining factors that lead to environmental mortality and the work done by the team in this new effort.

Prior research has shown that exposure to sunlight provides humans with benefits, such as instigating the production of vitamin D, and disadvantages, such as and a higher risk of . In this new effort, the researchers found that it might do something else—make men hungrier.

The researchers were looking into the ways that sunlight can lead to skin cancer in mice when they noticed that the male mice seemed to grow hungrier when exposed to UV light. Intrigued, they wondered if the same might be true with humans. To find out, they obtained data from a governmental questionnaire sent to people all across Israel enquiring about a host of health and nutritional issues. They found that men tend to eat more during the than during the other seasons. More specifically, they found that men consumed approximately 15% more calories during the summer, which they attributed to more exposure to sunlight. Food intake for women did not change.

The researchers took a closer look at the hormone ghrelin—commonly known as the hunger hormone. Prior research has shown it is produced by cells in the stomach, and sometimes in the pancreas, and brain. It is transported through the bloodstream, activating neurons in the hypothalamus, which reacts by creating the sensations of hunger. The hormone has also been found to impact other , as well, such as the amygdala, which can stimulate the production of dopamine. Ghrelin levels are known to rise both during periods of hunger and just before a meal is consumed.

Testing in mice showed ghrelin levels rising in male mice exposed to UVB radiation. Secretion of the hormone was also discovered in skin samples obtained by male human volunteers who were exposed to UV light in the lab. "In females, estrogen interferes with the p53–chromatin interaction on the ghrelin promoter, thus blocking ghrelin and food-seeking behavior in response to UVB exposure," stated the researchers.

More information: Shivang Parikh et al, Food-seeking behavior is triggered by skin ultraviolet exposure in males, Nature Metabolism (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-022-00587-9

Carlos Dieguez et al, Sun exposure stimulates appetite in males, Nature Metabolism (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-022-00592-y

Journal information: Nature Metabolism

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Citation: Sunlight exposure found to trigger increased eating in men (2022, July 12) retrieved 29 November 2023 from
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