Fewer meals may not mean fewer pounds for all, doctor warns of diabetic meal study

(CBS News) A new study on diabetics finds that eating two large meals a day leads to more weight loss than having six small meals. But that doesn't mean you should change the way you diet, warns one expert.

"It's really important for people not to get that message," Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said on "CBS This Morning."

The small study out of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, Czech Republic, involved 54 patients and was presented Sunday at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago. Over 12 weeks, people with Type 2 diabetes who ate only breakfast and lunch lost an average of 1.23 points in body mass index, or BMI, compared with a loss of 0.82 point for those who ate six smaller meals of the same nutritional and energy content.

Roslin said, "What this study says is that if you're going to eat 1,500 calories, you're better off eating 750 calories twice than 250 calories six times, but most nutritionists say if you go long periods without eating, you're going to wind up eating more because you're going to be hungrier in between meals, and this study doesn't answer that question."

Obesity studies on diabetics, Roslin added, are not necessarily transferable to non-diabetic people. As an example, he pointed to a blood test that indicates whether you have heart disease.

"The results are very, very different in diabetics and non-diabetics. So I don't think you can truly extrapolate, especially when one of our strongest signals to eat is low sugar and sugar control," Roslin said.

The commonly-held belief by nutritionists that more small meals multiple times a day isn't addressed here because the number of calories was fixed in the study, Roslin explained. "On one hand, yes, it's saying that if you eat multiple small meals a day, that doesn't speed up your metabolism, which is one of the things that people hear but the idea of eating multiple small meals a day is that you don't get ravenously hungry and therefore overeat. This study does something very important -- it fixes the total number of calories. In an institution you can fix the total number of calories. In real life, you really can't."

For more with Roslin on the study and what it means, watch his full "CTM" interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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