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When to eat breakfast and dinner to reduce cardiovascular diseases risk: Study finds

When to eat breakfast and dinner to reduce cardiovascular diseases risk: Study finds How breakfast and dinner time affects cardiovascular disease (photo: Freepik)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

In a new study, scientists have determined how meal times affect the risks of developing cardiovascular disease, according to nutritionist Oleh Shvets.

Study results

"In addition to calories and nutritional value of food, the timing of meals and drinks is also important. Later first and last meals are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in women. This is evidenced by the results of a large study," says the doctor.

The study involved 103,389 people with an average age of 42.6 years at the start of the study. Among them, 79% were women who participated in the NutriNet-Santé cohort study conducted in France.

The study participants had to fill out questionnaires with answers to several groups of questions. They provided data on socio-demographics, lifestyle, and physical activity, information on what hours of the day they consumed food and drinks, and reported their health status and diseases.

The researchers evaluated the association between the time of the first meal of the day (before 8 a.m., 8-9 a.m., after 9 a.m.) and the last meal (before 8 pm, 8-9 pm, after 9 p.m.), the number of meals, the duration of overnight fasting (12 hours or less, 12-13 hours, more than 13 hours), and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In doing so, they took into account a large number of potential factors, including age, gender, education, income, smoking, and physical activity level.

Сonnection between meal times and disease risks

The observation lasted more than seven years. The study showed that each additional hour of delay in the first meal of the day was associated with a higher risk of general cardiovascular disease. Moreover, this relationship was stronger in women than in men.

"Each additional hour of delay in the last meal was associated with an increased risk of vascular disease. The last meal after 9 p.m. was associated with a 28% higher risk than eating before 8 p.m.," says the nutritionist.

Each hour of increased nighttime fasting was associated with a 7% reduction in the risk of vascular disease but did not affect the risk of total cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.

The authors believe that the results of the study indicate the potential benefits of early meal times for preventing cardiovascular disease, as well as combining a longer overnight fasting period with an early dinner instead of skipping breakfast.

"It is worth noting that the study lacks information on the level of physical activity, the use of medications or alcohol, which are potential disruptors of circadian rhythms, as well as the time and duration of sleep. We cannot rule out a reverse causal shift, when people with poor health find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and therefore eat breakfast later," explains Shvets.