AHA Scientific Statement: Effects of Meal Timing on CV Health

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The American Heart Association releases a new statement suggesting that eating more earlier in the day may be healthier
The American Heart Association releases a new statement suggesting that eating more earlier in the day may be healthier

HealthDay News - A new statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), published online Jan. 30 in Circulation, highlights what's known -- and what's not -- about meal timing and cardiovascular health.

The report is a response to the growing evidence that timing matters when it comes to cardiovascular disease risk, lead author Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City, told HealthDay. The various organs of the body have their own "clocks," Dr St-Onge explained, and that may affect how we handle food at different times of the day and night.

A number of studies have found that breakfast eaters are generally healthier than breakfast skippers: They tend to weigh less, have better blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and have lower risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. 

Studies that track people in the real world have found that those who eat more often during the day have a lower risk of obesity and better cholesterol levels.

The statement lacks specific rules, such as "never eat after 8 p.m.," or "everyone should eat breakfast." It does, however, suggest that people spread out their calories over a "defined" period of the day -- as opposed to either eating a lot over a short period, or grazing from morning until night. 

Based on the evidence, the AHA says, it's probably a good idea to consume most of the day's calories earlier in the day.

Reference

St-Onge M-P, Ard J, Baskin ML, et al; on behalf of the American Heart Association Obesity Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young; Council on Clinical Cardiology; and Stroke Council. Meal timing and frequency: implications for cardiovascular disease prevention: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association [published online January 30, 2017]. Circulation. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000476 

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