Metabolic syndrome is a condition whereby multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes accumulate in one and the same individual. The chances of developing the components of the syndrome – abdominal obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and glucose intolerance – are affected by several lifestyle factors, of which diet is thought to be one of the most important.

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now, for the first time, showed that the frequency of meals, regardless of their content, affects the chances of developing metabolic syndrome. The study, which was based on a survey and medical examination of over four thousand 60-year old men and women, shows that irregular eating is associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

The participants that said that they rarely ate a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner had, on average, a larger waist size and more blood lipid disorders than people who ate more regularly. They also tended to exhibit more signs of insulin resistance, which is thought to be an underlying cause of metabolic syndrome.

The scientists believe that the results can help to improve dietary advice regarding the prevention or treatment of metabolic syndrome. The results are to be presented at a press seminar on food and health to be held today at Karolinska Institutet.

“Dietary advice is usually all about what kind of food we should eat,” says Professor Mai-Lis Hellénius, who led the study. “But this study shows that the way in which we eat can also be an important health factor.”

“Eating Meals Irregularly: A Novel Environmental Risk Factor for the Metabolic Syndrome”

Justo Sierra-Johnson, Anna-Lena Undén, Madeleine Linestrand, Magdalena Rosell, Per Sjögren, Maria Kolak, Ulf De Faire, Rachel M. Fisher and Mai-Lis Hellénius

Obesity, 3 April 2008

For further information, contact:

Professor Mai-Lis Hellénius
Department of Medicine
Tel: +46(0)8-524 887 91
Mob: +46(0)70-439 01 92

Press Officer Sabina Bossi
Tel: +46(0)8-524 860 66
Mob: +46(0)70-614 60 66