In the January issue of its journal Circulation, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a scientific statement on meal timing, frequency and its implications for heart disease prevention. Data from an extensive review of previously published studies showed that the time we eat and how frequently we eat affects our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

For the complete statement:
(click on download PDF)

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This study brings to light the importance of looking at all of our daily behaviors and their impact on our health. Take breakfast for example. As the study above revealed, between 20-30% of us no longer eat breakfast. The decline in breakfast consumption over the last few decades parallels the increase in obesity. Skipping meals is also associated with increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Additionally, the time we eat is also an issue. Late-night, that is eating within 2 hours of bed or waking up in the middle of the night to eat, is associated with an increased likelihood of obesity.

Bottom line, it is regular food intake - consistent, planned, scheduled meals – with more of the calories eaten earlier in the day that has a positive effect on risk factors for heart disease in particular, diabetes and obesity.

To use the AHA recommendations:

  • Plan meals over a set number of hours (10-12) during the day rather than grazing all day and night.
  • Eat more of your calories earlier in the day
  • Fast overnight – avoid late-night eating
  • Eat a healthy snack before meals to reduce the likelihood of overeating during meals

For more information

American Heart Association - When you eat and how frequent may benefit your health