Skipping Meals Could Be Much Worse For You Than We Realized : ScienceAlert

Skipping Meals Could Be Much Worse For You Than We Realized : ScienceAlert

In the hustle and bustle of modern existence, it can be all too easy to skip a meal or two. You can even do it on purpose. A new study suggests that going without one of the standard three meals a day can have a serious downside.

In a study of 24,011 American adults over 40, just one meal a day was associated with a higher risk of overall mortality. Skipping breakfast was associated with a greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), while skipping lunch or dinner was associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality, including increased CVD risk.

There was even a problem for those who ate all three meals but had them too close together. Eating two adjacent meals within 4.5 hours of each other was also shown to be associated with an increased risk of death from all causes.

While the study appears to complicate messages suggesting that intermittent fasting can be good for you, the data highlights the importance of regular fuel stops for the body.

“Our research found that individuals who eat only one meal a day are more likely to die than those who eat more meals a day,” says epidemiologist Yangbo Sun of the University of Tennessee.

“Based on these findings, we recommend eating at least two to three meals spread throughout the day.”

About 30 percent of the study participants regularly had fewer than three meals a day. Those who were younger, male, non-Hispanic, with less education and lower household income were more likely to skip meals, according to the data.

Skipping meals was also more prevalent among those who smoked more, drank more alcohol, were more food insecure, ate less nutritious food, snacked more and got less energy overall.

This study is not comprehensive enough to determine whether skipping meals causes early death, only that there is a link worthy of further research. It is possible that other factors are involved, which influence both eating habits and mortality risk.

That said, the research team adjusted their findings to account for variation in multiple diet and lifestyle factors, including smoking, alcohol use, physical activity levels, energy intake, diet quality, and food insecurity. – and the connection was still there.

“Our findings are based on observations drawn from public records and do not imply causality,” says epidemiologist Wei Bao of the University of Iowa. “However, what we observed makes metabolic sense.”

This “metabolic feeling” refers to how skipping meals at set intervals usually leads to more energy being consumed immediately. This can cause an imbalance in the way our bodies regulate glucose and cause deterioration in the metabolic system.

Recent statistics suggest that about 59 percent of men and about 63 percent of women in the US have three adequate meals a day. This is a large part of the population that can put themselves at risk by missing breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Of course, there are all sorts of reasons for this – working hours, time pressures, poverty, different diet and fasting approaches – but the team behind the study hope it will encourage further analysis of the importance of regular eating. .

“Our research contributes much-needed evidence to the link between eating behaviors and mortality in the context of meal timing and daily meal duration. [meal] period,” says Bao.

The research is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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