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Intermittent fasting linked to 91% higher risk of death due to heart related complications: Study

Compared with a standard schedule of eating across 12-16 hours per day, limiting food intake to less than 8 hours per day was not associated with living longer, showed a study of over 20,000 adults.

March 19, 2024 / 05:48 PM IST
Intermittent fasting is a strategy to lose weight where food intake is reduced to few times a day.

Intermittent fasting is a strategy to lose weight where food intake is reduced to few times a day.

If you are a follower of intermittent fasting, this might come as a shock. A study has revealed that those following this popular weight-cutting strategy are more likely to die of heart disease than those who ate across 12-16 hours a day.

Intermittent fasting is a strategy to lose weight where food intake is reduced to few times a day. The surprise finding was presented at a medical meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago on Monday. The study was reviewed by other experts prior to its release, according to the AHA.

The analysis said that restricting mealtimes to a period of eight hours a day was linked to a 91% rise in risk of death from heart disease.

The study further said that an increased risk of cardiovascular death was also seen in people living with heart disease or cancer. An eating period of not less than 8 but less than 10 hours per day was also linked with a 66% higher risk of death from heart disease or stroke among people with existing cardiovascular disease, The strategy did not cut the overall risk of death from any cause, the analysis found.

Such lifestyle interventions aimed at weight loss have come under scrutiny at a time when new generation of drugs help people shed pounds.

However, few doctors have questioned the study's findings, saying they could have been skewed by differences - such as underlying heart health - between the fasting patients and the comparison group, whose members consumed food over a daily period of 12 to 16 hours, reported Bloomberg on March 18.

“Time-restricted eating is popular as a means of reducing calorie intake,” Keith Frayn, emeritus professor of human metabolism at the University of Oxford, said in a statement to the UK Science Media Center. “This work is very important in showing that we need long-term studies on the effects of this practice. But this abstract leaves many questions unanswered.”

The study was carried out by a team led by Victor Zhong of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. They analysed data from about 20,000 adults included in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

“We were surprised to find that people who followed an 8-hour, time-restricted eating schedule were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Even though this type of diet has been popular due to its potential short-term benefits, our research clearly shows that, compared with a typical eating time range of 12-16 hours per day, a shorter eating duration was not associated with living longer,” Zhong said.

The study looked at answers to questionnaires along with death data from 2003 through 2019. Because it relied in part on forms that required patients to recall what they ate over two days, scientists said there was room for potential inaccuracies. About half of the patients were men and the mean age was 48.

It wasn't clear how long the patients continued the intermittent fasting, though the researchers assumed they kept it up, according to Zhong.

The fasting patients were more likely to be younger men with a higher BMI and food insecurity, he said by email. They also had a lower prevalence of hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease based on self-reports. "We controlled for all these variables in the analysis, but the positive association between 8-hour time-restricted eating and cardiovascular mortality remained," Zhong said.

With inputs from Bloomberg

Moneycontrol News
first published: Mar 19, 2024 05:48 pm

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