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First Published: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 02 05 AM IST

Updated: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 02 05 AM IST
Claim: you gain more weight by eating at night
Facts: There must be something magical about 8pm. Citing sluggish metabolism at the end of the day or even the notion that no one burns calories in the middle of the night—sleepwalkers notwithstanding—scrupulous dieters for years have said that any calories consumed after that time are bound to count more.
But experts say a calorie at noon is no different from a calorie at night.
Arlene Spark, an associate professor of nutrition at Hunter College in New York, says some people who eat at night do so after skimping all day. When they finally eat at night, they are likely to grab the first thing in sight, which is usually junk food, Dr Spark says.
There are also people who eat full meals during the day and get extra calories at night simply because they decide to eat again, anyway.
People who shed pounds or maintain their weight, on the other hand, do not tend to eat as much at night, usually because they get the calories they need during the day. So by late evening, Dr Spark says, they either have no cravings or they control them. In either case, they stay within their caloric limits.
Few studies have tested this in humans. But several tests on animals, including one at the Oregon Health and Science University in 2003, have shown that night-time calories aren’t more fattening than daytime ones.
“At the end of the day, the calories you take in must equal the calories you expend,” Dr Spark says.
The bottom line: Calories do not count more in the evening.
Claim: it’s cold. No,?it’s an allergy
Claim: it’s a cold. No, it’s an allergy
Facts: A stuffy head, a sore throat and sneezing fits that could leave you with a migraine: According to some surveys, about 20% of Americans report experiencing symptoms such as these at the same time every year. That would suggest an allergy, not a cold. But how does one tell the difference?
Symptoms of seasonal allergies and colds overlap, but studies suggest there are ways to set them apart.
The first is the onset of symptoms. Colds move more slowly, taking a day or longer to set in and gradually worsening—with symptoms such as loss of appetite and headache—before subsiding after about a week and disappearing within 10 days. But allergies begin immediately. The sneezing is sudden and overwhelming, and the congestion, typically centred behind the nose, is immediate. Allergy symptoms also disappear quickly—almost as soon as the offending allergen, such as pollen, is no longer around.
Then there are hallmark symptoms of each. Allergies virtually always cause itchiness, in the eyes, the nose, the throat, while a cold generally does not. Telltale signs of a cold are a fever, aches and coloured mucous.
If confusion persists, consult your family tree: Studies show that having a parent with allergies greatly increases your risk, particularly if that parent is your mother.
The bottom line: A few slight differences separate allergies from a cold. Anahad O’Connor
©2008/the New York Times
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First Published: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 02 05 AM IST
More Topics: Allergy | Eating | Night | Symptoms | Cold |