Does Eating More Often Important Improve Cardiovascular Health? Interview with:

Hsin-Jen Chen, PhD MS Assistant Professor Institute of Public Health National Yang-Ming University Taipei City

Dr. Hsin-Jen Chen

Hsin-Jen Chen, PhD MS
Assistant Professor
Institute of Public Health
National Yang-Ming University
Taipei City What is the background for this study?

Response: The number of eating occasions may affect health. Laboratory experiments have been showing that splitting daily food consumption into more eating occasions could improve metabolic profiles, such as healthier blood glucose and lipids levels. However, such kinds of experiments usually design a highly controlled diet for the participants in the lab. It is questionable whether such metabolic benefits remain in our daily life (namely, no controlled diets) where we can eat at anytime when we want to eat. What are the main findings?

Response: Based on the follow-up data of the US adults, we found that a greater number of eating occasions was associated with a lower cardiovascular mortality risk. BUT, this should be interpreted with caution because the findings were based on certain preconditions.

First, the lower mortality associated with a greater number of eating occasions was based on an “isocaloric” condition. This means that the relationship appeared when you compare people who ate the same amount of calories but had different numbers of eating occasions.

Second, the finding was especially significant among people who ate 2500 or more kcal (‘Calories’) a day. Among these people, consuming this large amount of food in 1-2 eating occasions had an elevated cardiovascular disease mortality in the future. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: For persons who consume a lot of food a day, separating the total intake into multiple eating occasions might have health benefits, in terms of mortality. Keep the “isocaloric” condition in mind; that is, the benefit of separating foods into more eating occasions happened when total amount of calories intake is kept the same. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The number of eating occasions was determined by a 24-hour dietary recall. Although we tried hard to restrict the analysis to the data of good recall quality, the measured number of eating occasions could still be subject to daily variation of diet. Future study based on multiple dietary recalls could help a more precise determination of the association between the number of eating occasions and health outcomes. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Just to reiterate: This study found a potential health benefit of separating a given amount of daily food intake into more eating occasions rather than that of adding more food intake into your current diet. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Relationship between frequency of eating and cardiovascular disease mortality in U.S. adults: the NHANES III follow-up study
Chen, Hsin-Jen et al.
Annals of Epidemiology , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
Published Online:June 14, 2016

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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