While most of the research on diet and obesity focuses on what people eat, a new study in mice suggests that more attention should be given to when people eat.

U.S. researchers found that mice that were only allowed to eat for eight hours a day ate as much as mice that were allowed to eat around the clock. Both groups ate a high-fat diet, but the mice with the restricted eating hours gained less weight, had healthier livers and had less inflammation.

The findings, published in Cell Metabolism, suggest that eating during too many hours of the day may contribute to obesity.

"Every organ has a clock," said lead author Satchidananda Panda, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

That means there are times of the day that the organs, including the liver, intestines and muscles, operate at peak efficiency and other times when they work less efficiently, Panda said. Restricted meal times may help prevent weight gain, and when people eat should be given more attention by obesity researchers.

Read more from U.S. News.

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