Introduction: Dietary patterns have been associated with cardiovascular disease. Accumulating evidence suggests the importance role of eating frequency (etFr) on cardiovascular risk factors and atherosclerosis progression.
Hypothesis: Frequent meal consumption may affect cardiovascular risk factors and protect against atherosclerosis.
Methods: The study was conducted on a subgroup population of Corinthia study consisted of 923 (aged 38-91, 435 males) subjects. IMT was measured in the left and right common carotid artery, carotid bulb and internal carotid artery. The average of the measurements (combinedIMT) was determined as representative value of carotid atherosclerosis burden. Standard questionnaires, medical history and physical examination were used to record several demographic and clinical characteristics as well as eating preferences.
Results: Median number of meals per day was 2 (1-3) in our study. Subjects consuming > 3 meals/day were female (p<0.001) or younger (64±12y vs. 62±12y, p=0.05) compared to subjects consuming 1-3 meals/day. There was no difference in other cardiovascular risk factors between subjects consuming >3 meals/day and those consuming 3 or less meals/day (Hypertension: 47% vs 48%, p=0.82; Diabetes mellitus: 30% vs. 21%, p=0.08; Current smokers: 27% vs. 31%, p=0.54) BMI (29.75±5.37Kgr/m2 vs. 29.06±7.85Kgr/m2, p=0.41). Importantly, combinedIMT was better in subjects consuming >3 meals per day and those consuming 3 or less meals per day (0.86±0.37mm vs. 1.03±0.47mm, p=0.07) and there was also a stepwise increase in combinedIMT according to EtFr (1meal/day: 1.18±0.70mm vs. 2-3meals/day:1.02±0.45mm vs. >3meals/day:0.86±0.37, p=0.002) even after adjustment for confounders such as age, gender, smoking habits, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and BMI (b coef:-0.1, 95%CI: -0.188, -0.011, p=0.03).
Conclusion: Increased eating frequency may act protectively against atherosclerosis especially concerning carotid IMT.