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Does intermittent fasting raise the risk of early death?

Executive summary

* A study examined the associations of meal frequency, skipping meals, and intervals between meals with all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

* The study involved 24,000 US adults who were followed for an average of approximately 7.7 years. Almost one in five people died during the study, which is high.

* The study claimed that, compared with people consuming three meals a day, those consuming one meal a day had a 30% higher (relative) risk of dying from anything and an 83% higher (relative) risk of dying from CVD.

* There were other findings related to skipping breakfast, lunch and/or dinner and one finding related to the average number of hours between meals.

* There were many non-findings, and these showed inconsistencies with the headline findings.

* As usual, the characteristics table showed that the 'meal skipper' was a totally different person to the ‘three meals a day’ person. Differences were adjusted for, but you can't adjust for a whole lifestyle.

* The plausible mechanism discussion in the paper blew the paper apart. It explored why skipping meals might be associated with higher mortality. Association was the key word. The meal patterns were markers of other issues (e.g., poverty/lack of access to food). None of them explained why skipping meals per se would cause any early deaths.


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