An innovative new study outlined in the journal Nutrition Bulletin will investigate if changing mealtimes to earlier or later in the day could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers will examine if changing times of eating will reduce risk factors such as obesity and cholesterol levels, which are typically associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.
This groundbreaking new 10-week study will use a series of interviews with participants and their friends and family to find an impact of changes on home life, work/social commitments, and whether co-habitants of those who make such modifications are influenced to alter their own meal timings/eating habits as a result.
The study involves 51 participants aged 18–65 who have been identified as having an increased/moderate/high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These individuals will be split into three groups. The first, a control group, will be asked to make no changes to their eating habits; the second group will be required to restrict their eating times during the day to between 7am- 3pm, and the third group will limit their eating time to between 12-8pm.
Each participant will be required to regularly attend the Surrey Clinical Investigations Unit to monitor their blood pressure, waist and hip circumferences, and provide blood and urine samples. Eye-tracking equipment will be used to analyze participants’ eye gaze direction to identify any food preferences changes. Previous research has shown that eye gaze direction is a strong signal of attention and preference behaviors.
Results gathered from each visit will determine if changing meal times could reduce the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes.
A Growing Concern
Diabetes is a growing concern across the US, as more than 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of those have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes also puts people at risk of developing serious problems with their eyes, heart, and nervous system.
Senior scientist of the study Dr. Denise Robertson says, “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. A simple solution to this could be altering when we eat our meals, lessening the risk factors associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes.”
Researchers hope this study will outline connections in mealtimes and spikes in blood sugar. If mealtimes are set to certain times of the day, this could allow for more of a daily fast, which some research has shown to reduce chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Robinson concluded, “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.”