Could Changing Your Meal Time Reduce Diabetes Risk? New Research Aims to Find Out

With Type 2 diabetes becoming more and more prevalent, we’ve all heard of the ways to try to reduce our risk. Those could be what best to eat, how often to move, and what foods to avoid. A group of researchers plans to investigate a new possible risk reduction measure: When we eat our meals.

The study, which was recently outlined in the journal Nutrition Bulletin, will be undertaken by the University of Surrey in England. Dr. Denise Robertson, Professor Jonathan Johnston and post graduate researcher Shantel Lynch from the university are leading the effort.

Dr. Robertson, Reader in Nutritional Physiology, says, “Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem in the UK, with over three million people diagnosed and 12.3 million people at potential risk of developing the condition, which can increase the likelihood of developing serious problems with our eyes, heart and nervous system.

“Public health initiatives are often rolled out with a focus on prevention, but these have had limited success. We need to adopt different approaches in preventing this condition.”

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She says they’d like to see if a simple solution of merely changing a meal schedule could help reduce other risk factors associated with diabetes.

To determine this, 51 adults 65 and younger will take part in a 10-week study. All participants have an increased, moderate, or high risk of developing diabetes. They’ll be split into three groups. The control group will be asked not to change their meal schedule, while the second group will need to eat only between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the third group will have to stick to a 12-8 p.m. meal schedule.

All of the groups will regularly have their blood pressure checked, waist and hip circumferences measured, and blood and urine samples taken. In addition, a registered dietician will use eye-tracking equipment to see where participants look. This will determine if there are any changes to food preferences during the course of the study.

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With the findings, they’ll see if what impact a meal schedule has on diabetes risk factors.

Lynch, who works as a registered dietician, says, “The possible benefits of altering mealtimes, such as weight loss, have become increasingly topical in nutrition-related research. However, there are still many unanswered questions and we hope to contribute to this field of research while finding out whether time-restricted feeding may help to reduce the risk of developing long-term illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, and how feasible it is to follow this diet in real life.”

While the main goal is to investigate the possible link to diabetes and long-term illnesses, the researchers also have a secondary aim.

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Dr. Johnson, professor of chronobiology and integrative physiology, says, “We will also for the first time be investigating the impact of time-restricted feeding on individuals’ work, social and home life to understand the obstacles people encounter in adapting to new mealtimes, which may affect their ability to stick to the schedule.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 34 million Americans live with diabetes, while 88 million have prediabetes.

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The CDC also offers some non-dietary tips for diabetes prevention, including finding a way to manage your stress and solve problems that can slow your progress, as well as getting support from people with similar goals and challenges.

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