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Five Meals A Day Keeps Obesity Away, Study

Update Date: Oct 03, 2013 02:26 PM EDT
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Eating five meals a day may protect teens from gaining weight, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that adolescents who ate breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks every day had no higher body mass index than their controls. Researchers said that latest findings also apply to those with a genetic predisposition to obesity.

Investigators began collecting data on Finnish study population before participants were even born. The participants were then followed up until the age of 16.

Researchers wanted to identify early-life risk factors associated with obesity and to understand the link between meal frequencies, obesity and metabolic syndrome. They also wanted to see if meal frequency could modulate the effect of common genetic variants linked to obesity.

The genetic data comprised of eight single nucleotide polymorphisms at or near eight obesity-susceptibility loci.

The findings revealed that a regular five-meal pattern was associated with a reduced risk of overweight and obesity in both sexes and with a reduced risk of abdominal obesity in boys.

What's more, eating five meals a day attenuated BMI-increasing effect of the common genetic variants. In contrast, skipping breakfast was linked to a greater BMI and waist circumference.

"These findings emphasize the importance of taking an early whole-family approach to childhood obesity prevention. Furthermore, it is important to be aware that the effects of predisposing genotypes can be modified by lifestyle habits such as regular meal frequency," researcher Anne Jääskeläinen, MHSc, of the University of Eastern Finland, said in a news release.

The findings were published in International Journal of Obesity, International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, and PLOS One.

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