The effects of altering meal frequency on measures of glucose and lipid metabolism in type 2 diabetes were examined by comparing isocaloric dietary regimens in which daily food intake was provided by three or nine meals each day.


A total of 13 free-living men and women with type 2 diabetes or persistently impaired glucose tolerance participated in a randomized crossover study in which three- and nine-meal regimes were followed for 4-week periods. Fasting plasma lipid and lipoprotein, glucose and insulin concentrations were measured at weekly intervals and glucose, insulin, and triglyceride responses following a 75-g glucose load at weeks 2 and 4 of each diet period. Dietary intake was also recorded during these weeks.


Nutrient intakes and all measures of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism were similar on the three- and nine-meal regimes.


This longer-term study could not confirm the potential benefits of increased meal frequency suggested by comparable 4-week studies in type 2 diabetic individuals and acute experiments in individuals with diabetes. However, as there were no adverse effects of consuming nine meals per day, it would seem appropriate that meal frequency in those with type 2 diabetes should be left to personal choice, provided that energy balance is maintained.

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