The evidence is not clear on how – or even whether – snacking, breakfast eating or meal size links to weight. A large study adds new data to this body of research suggesting that fewer daily meals and snacks can help prevent weight gain, at least for this healthy group. For cancer prevention, staying a healthy weight is key to reducing risk for many common cancers like endometrial, postmenopausal breast and colorectal.
The authors analyzed data from the Adventist Health Study that includes over 50,000 North American adults. At the beginning of the study, participants reported their height and weight, as well as health habits like exercise, sleep and television watching. They also reported their eating habits via 24 hour recalls and a food frequency questionnaire.
The participants – members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church – tend to be more health-conscious, nonsmokers, mostly nondrinkers and eat less meat than most Americans.
Researchers used this data to determine how many meals – including snacks and breakfast – participants ate, and which meals were typically largest. They calculated participants’ weight changes by comparing Body Mass Index (BMI) at the beginning and end of the study.
An average of 7 years later, the study found:
For participants eating 1 or 2 meals a day, their BMI decreased in comparison to those eating 3 meals per day.
At that regular doctors appointment, it’s important that kids get screened for obesity and if they are diagnosed, an intense healthy lifestyle intervention can help. The new recommendations from The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), published in JAMA, emphasize the importance of weight management throughout life.
Both here in the US and around the world, obesity rates continue to climb. Today, for the first time, more people are classified as obese than underweight, finds a major new study published in The Lancet.
The findings have severe implications for cancer rates. Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single largest risk factor related to cancer risk. AICR research links excess body fat to ten cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and esophageal.
Here in the US, if everyone were a healthy weight, AICR estimates that approximately 128,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year.