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Evening eating tied to poor heart health for women

Pearl Toh
29 Nov 2019

Higher intake of calorie late in the evening is not only bad for the waistline, but may also be bad for the heart of women, suggests a study presented at the AHA 2019 Meeting.

With every 1 percent increase in caloric intake after 6 pm, the more likely the participants were to have higher blood pressure (BP) and body mass index (BMI), along with poorer glycaemic control and overall cardiovascular health.

“So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat [but not the timing of eating],” said lead author Dr Nour Makarem from Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, New York, US.

“These preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behaviour that can help lower heart disease risk,” she added.

In the prospective AHA Go Red for Women SFRN at Columbia cohort study, 112 women (mean age 33 years) who completed a 1-week food diary were assessed on their cardiovascular health at baseline and 1 year using the AHA Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) score. The food diaries included records of what, how much, and when the participants ate for 1 week at baseline and 1 year. LS7 measures seven modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease: smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet.

At 1 year, women who reported a greater caloric intake after 6 pm had poorer overall cardiovascular health — as indicated by a lower LS7 score with every 1 percent increase in caloric intake (β=-0.12; p<0.001). [AHA 2019, abstract 176]

Specifically, every 1 percent increment in the caloric intake after 6 pm was associated with a higher BMI (β=0.17; p=0.029), HbA1c (β=0.03; p=0.033), and both systolic (β=0.59; p<0.001) and diastolic BP (β=0.67; p<0.0001).

Similar findings were seen for caloric intake after 8 pm: for every 1 percent increment in calories consumed, there was increased likelihood of having a higher diastolic BP (β=0.33; p=0.014) and a lower LS7 score (β=-0.13; p<0.001).

In fact, the association was already present at baseline, with each additional 1 percent of calorie consumed after 8 pm being associated with a poorer LS7 score (β=-0.03; p=0.016) and a greater diastolic BP (β=0.18; p=0.004).

When stratifying the analysis by race/ethnicity, the researchers found that the association between evening caloric intake and elevated BP was stronger in Hispanic women, who accounted for 44 percent of the participants analysed, compared with non-Hispanic women at both baseline and 1 year (p<0.01 for both).

“I think it’s an important study, it’s foundational more than definitive at this point, but I think it provides some really interesting insights into an aspect of nutrition and how it relates to cardiovascular risk factors that we really haven’t thought about before,” said Professor Kristin Newby of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US, who was chair of the oversight advisory committee for the Go Red for Women Research Network.

“It is never too early to start thinking about your heart health whether you’re 20 or 30 or 40 or moving into the 60s and 70s. If you’re healthy now or if you have heart disease, you can always do more. That goes along with being heart smart and heart healthy,” she urged.

 

 

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