New diet strategy could protect obese women's hearts

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Larger less frequent meals could protect women's hearts, finds new study

New research finds obese women might cut their risk for heart disease by eating three larger meals a day versus frequent small meals. According to the study results, eating 3 meals a day lowered blood fats, compared to all-day snacking that can sometimes lead to less healthy eating.

Investigators for the study looked at data to understand if eating small, frequent meals throughout the day is metabolically healthy. They discovered there is little scientific evidence to support the claim.

When they tested blood glucose and fat levels among women who consumed 1500 calorie meals for 2 days, they found eating three meals led to significantly lower levels of fat associated with eating 3 larger meals a day.

The women either consumed three 500 calories liquid meals or six 250 calorie meals for comparison. The study included 8 obese women and took place over a period of two days throughout 12-hour time frames.

Tim Heden, the study's lead author, explained in a press release that lack of research led to the study, "...which is one of the first to examine how meal frequency affects insulin and blood-fat levels in obese women during an entire day of eating.”


The hope says Heden, is that the study results will help nutritionists and other medical practitioners develop strategies to keep obese women healthier.

Finding ways to lose weight to lower risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease can be challenging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans are overweight or obese. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States.

Women who experience a heart attack are more likely to die than men according to recent findings presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2012, Obesity is a known risk factor for heart disease. Researchers still aren’t clear about the reasons for outcomes between men and women who suffer heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI).

Jill Kanaley, professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and study co-author points out that it’s difficult for some people to eat healthy snacks and most people are taking in too many calories.” If you sit down to eat frequently you’re probably going to take in more calories.”

The finding suggests a new diet strategy for obese women that may lead to better heart health. Eating frequent small meal may not be the best approach for metabolic health.

News Bureau: University of Missouri
December 6, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile