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Timing of meals as important as substance

A review on research into meal patterns has found that eating at irregular times could increase your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. With many peoples’ lives getting busier, and our lifestyle getting more irregular, when we eat has become a major problem. Two papers published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society explore the effects that irregular meal patterns have; they have found that eating inconsistently affects the ‘circadian rhythm’ or the body clock. Many metabolic processes follow the circadian pattern, such as appetite control and metabolism of food. Other studies have shown that people who work shifts, and therefore eat at irregular times, are much more likely to develop conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Eating small sized meals frequently has been a characteristic of many fad diets, however this may not be healthy, as some studies show that a greater number of meals leads to a greater risk of obesity. The authors are keen to point out that what we eat is also extremely important. Meal patterns differ globally, as well as the importance of certain meals, this could aid future studies on the effects of timings of meals on the development of disease such as metabolic syndrome. However, currently there is limited evidence on this phenomenon, and the authors are hoping that larger scale studies will be performed to further our understanding of it.

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