Large – scale studies are urged after a research review indicated irregular meal patterns caused by shift work and social jetlag is linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Jet lag is described as living according to social clocks rather than circadian rhythm.
Part of the reason lies with the many changes the past 20 years affecting lifestyle. Eating doesn’t occur at set times such as lunch at noon and dinner at six. Meals are missed, eaten away from home, while on the move, and irregularly.
The circadian rhythm is more important than most of us realize. A number of interrelated metabolic functions use a circadian pattern like digestion, metabolizing fat, cholesterol and glucose, and appetite. Eating food can affect our internal clocks and organs like the intestine and liver to a marked degree. Our central clock, governed by the light and dark cycle affects food intake.
People doing shift work, according to studies, show an increased risk of developing cancer and metabolic syndrome which is a group of physiological and biochemical abnormalities allied with the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Approximately 80% of the general population in Central Europe is estimated to be affected, particularly those in urban centers.
As a solution, eating small but numerous meals to govern weight and appetite is common among fad diets, but there are some studies that show the more meals consumed the greater the risk of obesity. There is an opinion that fewer meals aren’t likely to yield major benefits without a reduced calorie intake.
The study’s authors at King’s College London say when studying the effect of irregular meals it’s critical to consider what food is being consumed. There’s a link between the schedules of when and what is eaten. Poor food choices encourage skipping breakfast. Children and adults who have consistent family meals foster healthy eating habits in children and adolescents.
On an international scale, eating patterns vary quite substantially. In France and the Mediterranean area lunch, the most important daily meal is a social affair. The French favor eating together as a household and follow a three meals a day pattern. However, in central England, individual preference and expediency govern food choices so prepared and take – away foods are favored. There are more skipping meals and eating calorie – laden foods such as crisps.
The ratio of energy intake increases slowly during the day in the US and the UK. Breakfast yields low energy, dinner the most.
Many national dietary guidelines concentrate on ‘what’ should be eaten but only a few make recommendations on ‘when.’
Dr Gerda Pot, visiting lecturer in the Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division at Kings College says there’s something to the old saying of eating like a king at breakfast, like a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner. We have a greater understanding now of what should be eaten but are still left seeking the answer which meal should give us the most energy.
Evidence indicates eating more calories in the evening is linked to obesity. But we don’t understand whether energy accumulation should be spread throughout the day or if breakfast should provide the major proportion of energy with lunch and dinner to follow