Two meals a day 'effective' to treat type 2 diabetes

Vegetables and fruit Scientists prescribed two meals a day rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre

Related Stories

Only eating breakfast and lunch may be more effective at managing type 2 diabetes than eating smaller, more regular meals, scientists say.

Researchers in Prague fed two groups of 27 people the same calorie diet spread over two or six meals a day.

They found volunteers who ate two meals a day lost more weight than those who ate six, and their blood sugar dropped.

Experts said the study supported "existing evidence" that fewer, larger meals were the way forward.

Timing important?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin.

Since insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood, this means blood sugar levels become too high.

Start Quote

Larger studies over longer periods of time will be needed to back up these findings before we would change advice”

End Quote Dr Richard Elliott Diabetes UK

If untreated, it can lead to heart disease and stroke, nerve damage, light-sensitive eyes and kidney disease.

About 2.9 million people in the UK are affected by diabetes, 90% of whom have the type 2 form of the disease.

Current advice in the UK recommends three meals a day, with healthy snacks.

Scientists at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague divided a group of 54 volunteers aged 30 to 70 with type 2 diabetes into two groups of 27 people.

Volunteers were then given either a six-meal-a-day diet (A6) for 12 weeks followed by a two-meal day diet (B2), or vice versa.

The study compared two meals with six meals - as the latter accorded with current practice advice in the Czech Republic, researchers said.

Each diet contained on average 1,700 calories a day.

'Very pleasing' result

The B2 group ate between 06:00 and 10:00 and then between 12:00 and 16:00, and the A6 group ate their food throughout the day.

Weight loss for the B2 group averaged 1.4kg (3lb) more than A6, and they lost about 4cm (1.5in) more from their waistlines.

Lead scientist Dr Hana Kahleova, at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, said the results were "very pleasing".

She said: "The patients were really afraid they would get hungry in the evening but feelings of hunger were lower as the patients ate until they were satisfied.

"But when they ate six times a day the meals were not leaving them feeling satisfied. It was quite surprising."

'Larger studies needed'

Dr Kahleova said the study could apply to people without diabetes who were trying to lose weight.

Dr Richard Elliott, research communications officer at Diabetes UK, said the study added to evidence that eating fewer, larger meals a day could be more effective than smaller, frequent meals at helping people manage their condition.

He added: "However, larger studies over longer periods of time will be needed to back up these findings before we would make changes to the dietary advice given to people with type 2 diabetes."

Dr Elliot said eating a healthy, balanced diet, being active and maintaining a healthy weight, alongside taking any medication was "vital" to effectively manage the condition.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    The 3 meals a day model is relatively new and never made much sense. The fact that it evolved into 4, 5 or more meals a day just made it worse.

    Eating only breakfast and lunch is a form of intermittent fasting. Just about every form of IF has demonstrated health benefits and has attracted followers.

    It's time for medics to be less conservative in what they recommend. It's borderline cowardice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    I have seen intelligent people with diabetes say "My blood sugar is low" and then go and grab a kitkat or club biscuit.
    In non-diabetics this creates an excessive sugar spike when eating refined carbs.
    What is it doing to a diabetic - they must be locked in to a sew-saw of eating and pills to keep on any even keel.
    I think that lower carb options need more awareness - including breakfast!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    I switched to breakfast and lunch last autumn. It seems generally better for your health with slow weight loss and no indigestion whilst you sleep. Not to mention the evenings becoming free to do more things. Only problem is that it is antisocial because to be with people you have to eat in the evening when they do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    This all ties in with the success of low-carb paleo diet for autoimmune diseases. Some carbs esp wheat create endorphins which make you crave more food one the high has gone.
    All you saying that this research is a waste - you do not understand the potential for health and saving in the countr.
    Potential to reverse diabete - for some people to go drug free.
    Lots of fantastic comments on here too !

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    As a Type 2 diet controlled diabetic, I have looked for clues amongst other cultures. I follow the Japanese methodology, where I only eat carbs in the morning and, where practicable, I eat two large meals. I have had stable blood sugar levels for over six years. The US and EU advice does not work, as it involves too much natural sugar and carbs i.e. fruit, rice, etc.


Comments 5 of 9


More Health stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

BBC Future

Knowing how to trigger an immune response may help beat cancer (SPL)

Can we make the body self-heal?

Lessons from baffling cancer 'miracles'


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach - why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.