A new study has revealed that individuals who consumed smaller meals more frequently during the day are healthier, and decrease their chances of being overweight. Alternatively, the research showed that those who had fewer meals daily struggled with weight; and tend to consumed meals later in the evening, and with alcohol. The study focused on the body mass index (BMI), which measures weight as it relates to a person’s height.
UK researchers at Imperial College London, along with U.S. researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, reviewed data from a study conducted during 1996 and 1999; which took a closer look at the eating habits of 2,385 adult. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is seen as normal weight, while a BMI between 25 and 29.9 falls into the overweigh category. Alternatively, a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
The research found that those individuals who ate less than four meals a day had an average BMI of 29.0, and ate approximately 2,472 calories. While individuals that consumed six or more meals a day reported an average BMI of 27.3, and consumed about 2,129 calories.
Those who ate more meals, seemed to reach for healthier foods like fruits and vegetables; items that were low in calories, but great in nutritional value. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals who had fewer than four meals ate high calorie foods, accompanied by alcoholic beverages. Researchers were quick to note, participants who ate less frequent meals had a tendency to dining out at restaurants quite often; which can explain the difficulty in reaching for healthier food options, and the temptation to indulge in rich and fried foods.
The research team noted limits of the study, stating that time and number of meals doesn’t prove distinctions in BMI; adding that the correlation between the two supports the theory, but may also require additional research.