Associations of number of daily eating occasions with type 2 diabetes risk in the women's health initiative dietary modification trial

Academic Article


  • Background: Over 23 million Americans have type 2 diabetes (T2D). Eating habits such as breakfast consumption, time-restricted eating, and limiting daily eating occasions have been explored as behaviors for reducing T2D risk, but prior evidence is inconclusive. Objectives: Our objectives were to examine associations between number of daily eating occasions and T2D risk in the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial (WHI-DM) and whether associations vary by BMI, age, or race/ethnicity. Methods: Participants were postmenopausal women in the WHI-DM who comprised a 4.6% subsample completing 24-h dietary recalls (24HRs) at years 3 and 6 as part of trial adherence activities (n = 2159). Numbers of eating occasions per day were obtained from the year 3 24HRs, and participants were grouped into approximate tertiles as 1-3 (n = 795), 4 (n = 713), and ≥5 (n = 651) daily eating occasions as the exposure. Incident diabetes was self-reported on semiannual questionnaires as the outcome. Results: Approximately 15% (15.4%, n = 332) of the WHI-DM 24HR cohort reported incident diabetes at follow-up. Cox proportional hazards regression tested associations of eating occasions with T2D adjusted for neighborhood socioeconomic status, BMI, waist circumference, race/ethnicity, family history of T2D, recreational physical activity, Healthy Eating Index-2005, 24HR energy intake, and WHI-DM arm. Compared with women reporting 1-3 meals/d, those consuming 4 meals/d had a T2D HR = 1.38 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.84) without further increases in risk for ≥5 meals/d. In stratified analyses, associations for 4 meals/d compared with 1-3 meals/d were stronger in women with BMI <30.0 kg/m2 (HR = 1.55; 95% CI: 1.00, 2.39) and women aged ≥60 (HR = 1.61; 95% CI: 1.11, 2.33). Conclusions: Four meals per day compared with 1-3 meals/d was associated with increased risk of T2D in postmenopausal women, but no dose-response effect was observed for additional eating occasions. Further studies are needed to understand eating occasions in relation to T2D risk.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Neuhouser ML; Wertheim BC; Perrigue MM; Hingle M; Tinker LF; Shikany JM; Johnson KC; Waring ME; Seguin-Fowler RA; Vitolins MZ
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • 8