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Collaborative Success Stories: Less is More


Woman on scale

University of Missouri researchers found that three meals per day is key to reducing the risk of heart disease in obese women.

Mass media and many health care practitioners often advocate eating several small meals multiple times per day. But after looking into literature, University of Missouri researcher Dr. Jill Kanaley didn’t find many studies examining or supporting this claim. The lack of research led to one of the first studies to examine how meal frequency affects insulin and blood-fat levels in obese women.

Kanaley and her team found that, for obese women, eating three larger meals per day lowered blood-fat levels. Over time, eating larger meals each day could lower women’s blood-fat levels, effectively lowering the risk of developing heart disease—the leading cause of death in the United States.

While multiple smaller meals per day might work for some, the team gave these words of caution: the more times a person sits down to eat, the more calories he or she is likely to take in.

The study, “Meal Frequency Differentially Alters Postprandial Triacylglycerol and Insulin Concentrations in Obese Women,” has received media attention from news outlets including Everyday Health and redOrbit. It was also published in the journal Obesity.

Dr. Jill Kanaley is a professor and associate chair for the Nutrition and Exercise Physiology Department at the University of Missouri.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future, One Health/One Medicine,