Yokoya M, Terada A. Regional Differences in Height, Weight, and Body Composition may Result from Photoperiodic Responses: An Ecological Analysis of Japanese Children and Adolescents. J Circadian Rhythms. 2021 Feb 22;19:3. doi: 10.5334/jcr.198. PMID: 33664773; PMCID: PMC7908924.
This ecological study examined whether geographical differences in the physique of Japanese children and adolescents can be explained from the perspective of photoperiodicity induced by effective day length (light duration exceeding a certain threshold of illuminance) using prefecture-level anatomical data and Mesh Climatic Data. Multiple regression analysis for height prediction demonstrated that when controlled by weight, effective day lengths of the longest and shortest months were inversely correlated with height distribution. Conversely, for weight prediction, when controlled by height, the effective day lengths of the longest and shortest months were positively correlated with weight distribution. The regression coefficients were greater for the effective day length of the shortest month in both height and weight prediction. This phenomenon where the same two explanatory variables are negatively correlated with height and positively correlated with weight in a significant manner is rare, and there may be no physiological interpretation of this phenomenon other than one based on changes in thyroid hormone signaling. These distribution characteristics are common to the photoperiodicity by which seasonal breeding vertebrates reciprocally switch thyroid hormone signaling according to prior photoperiodic history through epigenetic functions. From these perspectives, thyroid hormone signaling in a certain region was assumed to be activated in summer according to the prior shorter winter day length and inactivated in winter according to the prior longer summer day length. Regarding the prevalence of obesity, the coexistence of longer summer and winter day lengths was thought to set body composition to be short and fat in early adolescence.
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