SCIENCE SHORT

You are WHEN you eat: Are guidelines needed for eating times?

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

A selection of studies pointed towards eating meals irregularly was linked with an increased risk of a high BMI and blood pressure.(© iStock.com)
A selection of studies pointed towards eating meals irregularly was linked with an increased risk of a high BMI and blood pressure.(© iStock.com)

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Meal times should be considered in future national dietary guidelines as irregular meal patterns may contribute to a higher BMI and blood pressure than for people who eat at set times with others, say scientists.

The collaboration involving Kings College London and the University of Amsterdam involved a literature review on irregular meal patterns and cardiometabolic consequences.

Only a few cross-sectional studies and prospective cohort studies were identified, and most of these suggested that eating meals irregularly was associated with an increased risk of a high BMI and blood pressure.

“This narrative review showed that it is important to further advance research about not only what people eat but also when they eat,”​ the study noted.

“Although the evidence from robust observational and intervention studies is limited, research to date appears to indicate that consuming meals

tv dinner ready meal
The review took a look at shift workers, and their disease risk and dietary patterns. (© iStock.com)

irregularly could increase cardiometabolic risk.”

Similar study

The same team were unable to reach any conclusions when they previously looked at children living in the UK and the link between eating after 8pm and obesity.

Commenting at the time, co-author of both studies, Dr Gerda Pot, said: “The findings of our study are surprising. We expected to find an association between eating later and being more likely to be overweight but actually found that this was not the case.”

“This may be due to the limited number of children consuming their evening meal after 8pm in this cohort.”

Source: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

Published online ahead of print, doi.org/10.1017/S0029665116000239

“Meal irregularity and cardiometabolic consequences: results from observational and intervention studies.”

Authors: Gerda Pot, Suzana Almoosawi and Alison M. Stephen

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