Research: Large Dinner and Excess Body Weight

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Are large dinners associated with excess weight?  

dinner table

Dinner table

For years, there’ve been many suggestions that a large dinner or evening meal is associated with obesity or higher BMI.  In school,  I can remember many of my college and medical school instructors suggest that portion control would help with weight loss.  That is not entirely what I am speaking about here.  The question in this article is not portion size will but the largest meal.  There are suggestions that large evening meals are associated with greater BMI.

 I recently wrote an article about eating close to your circadian bedtime.  There is a fairly good research article that shows that eating near your melatonin peak or circadian bedtime may be associated with an increased risk of fat deposition and obesity.  That is not the question we are discussing either.  

A new meta-analysis was published in October of 2017 and was entitled “Are large dinners associated with excess weight, and does eating a smaller dinner achieve greater weight loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis”[1].  It was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.  This study reviewed systematically the association between evening energy intake and weight in adults and aimed to determine whether reducing evening intake achieves weight loss.  The researched searched MEDLINE, PubMed, Cinahl, Web of Science, Cochrane Library of Clinical Trials, EMBASE and SCOPUS for studies to compare.  They investigated the relationship between BMI and evening energy intake.  Four observational studies showed a positive association between large evening intake and BMI, five showed no association and one showed an inverse relationship.  The end result of the meta-analysis showed no difference in weight change between small and large dinner groups.  

The bottom line: The analysis showed that meal size at dinner time is not associated with being overweight.  More well-controlled intervention trials are needed.

Footnotes
[1]Fong, Caterson, and Madigan, “Are Large Dinners Associated with Excess Weight, and Does Eating a Smaller Dinner Achieve Greater Weight Loss? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”
Fong, Mackenzie, Ian D. Caterson, and Claire D. Madigan. “Are Large Dinners Associated with Excess Weight, and Does Eating a Smaller Dinner Achieve Greater Weight Loss? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of Nutrition, October 2, 2017, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007114517002550.
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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.

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