Research: Differences in meal patterns and timing with regard to central obesity

ResearchResearch

Research points to meal type, patterns, and times as a risk of central obesity.  

Central Obesity

Central Obesity

Differences in meal patterns and timing with regard to central obesity have long been discussed as a potential cause of central obesity.   We know that the prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide and the changes in diet and physical activity are essential treatments for reducing excess weight.  Changes in diet and physical activity are essential treatments in the strategies to reduce excess weight, but to this date have not panned out as being successful.  People have conjectured that meal timing such as eating late at night increases your risk of developing central obesity.  Others have argued that sugar, fat, and even alcohol are the primary causes of central obesity.  Additional discussions centered around skipping meals as a potential cause of central obesity.  The problem with the majority of these hypotheses is that they are based upon conjecture and there is little scientific evidence or even a  physiologic mechanism that could explain the phenomenon.   The question is: are there any strategies that I can take to reduce my risk of obesity?  Prior studies have shown inconsistent findings between body mass index and dietary patterns.  Research from 2017 appears to clarify potential ties to dietary pattern and timing to central obesity.

What is central obesity? I am sure you remember the old pear versus the apple shape when discussing body type.  Simply put, the apple is central obesity.  Central obesity is also known as abdominal or truncal obesity.  Central obesity, also known as abdominal obesity, occurs when excessive abdominal fat or adiposity builds up around the abdomen to the point where it may impact one’s health negatively. Central obesity has been tied to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  In fact, central obesity is one of the hallmarks of the much-maligned metabolic syndrome.   I would argue that the process that creates metabolic syndrome is just an early sign of the same process that causes both diabetes type II and cardiovascular disease.  

The new research was released in April of 2017.    The write up appeared in the journal Public Health Nutrition.  The purpose of the study was to look at the association of meal patterns and timing with central obesity and to attempt to identify potential dietary strategies that may help deal with the increasing prevalence of obesity that is occurring around the globe[1].  The study was performed in Spain.    The subjects were a part of a study called the ANIBES Study[2] which is a study that looked at anthropometric data, macronutrients and micronutrients intake, the practice of physical activity, socioeconomic data, and lifestyles in Spain.  A representative sample of the Spanish population was enrolled in the study.  The subjects were divided into two groups: those with central obesity and those without.  The researchers used a standardized waist to height ratio to stratify into the two test groups. The researchers used 24-hour recall and questionnaires to determine the meal patterns and timing that were associated with an increased risk of obesity.  

Apple vs pear

Apple vs pear

 

The researchers of this study did find a few links to obesity.  People with central obesity consumed fewer meals away from home, slept for shorter, and ate more energy at lunch and less energy at the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks than those without this type of obesity.  Specifically, lunches containing more than 35 % of total daily energy were associated with increased likelihood of central obesity.  Those without central obesity were more likely to eat more than four meals daily.   Those with central obesity more frequently skipped the mid-afternoon snack.  Breakfasts containing more than 25% of total energy intake and lunches containing more than 35% of total energy intake were associated with increased likelihood of central obesity.  On the contrary, mid-morning snacks and mid-afternoon snacks containing over 15% of total energy were associated with decreased likelihood of central obesity.   The dietary variety of cereals, wholegrain cereals, and dairy was higher in the population without central obesity.

Weight Strategies suggested by the data:

  1. Consume at least four meals daily
    • Breakfast containing less than 25 % of total daily energy intake
    • Mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack in the diet which provides at least 15 % of total daily energy intake
    • Lunch at an appropriate time (about 14.00 hours) with an energy contribution not exceeding 35% of total daily energy intake
  2. Add variety: include the maximum number of foods belonging to the groups of dairy products, cereals, and whole grains.

The bottom line: Changes in diet and physical activity are essential treatments in the strategies to reduce excess weight, but prior research has indicated that our current approach is of limited effectiveness.  The results of this study suggest that dietary strategies that change the pattern, variety, and times may help you avoid obesity.  It is important to understand that these are links and cannot be tied to causality or cures.  More research is needed.  

References

[1]
A. Aparicio et al., “Differences in meal patterns and timing with regard to central obesity in the ANIBES (‘Anthropometric data, macronutrients and micronutrients intake, practice of physical activity, socioeconomic data and lifestyles in Spain’) Study,” Public Health Nutr, vol. 20, no. 13, pp. 2364–2373, Apr. 2017. [PMC]
[2]
“Anibes,” Anibes, 05-May-2018. [Online]. Available: http://www.fen.org.es/anibes/en/what_is_anibes. [Accessed: 05-May-2018]
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
 

About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

Be the first to comment on "Research: Differences in meal patterns and timing with regard to central obesity"

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: