Could Skipping Meals Raise the Risk of Prediabetes?

Skipping meals could disrupt the metabolism and cause abdominal weight gain and signs of prediabetes, according to a recent study.

For their study, researchers divided mice into 2 groups: controls who were given all of their daily food at once, and allowed to eat it over the course of the day, and mice who were given a restricted calorie diet.

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For the first 3 days, the intervention group was given half as many calories as the control mice, which initiated gorging behavior. By day 6, all of the mice were served the same amount of food due to the gradual adding of calories to the experimental mice.1

In those that gorged and fasted, researchers found a spike and then dangerous drop in insulin production. Further, researchers noted inflammatory elevations, and a higher activation of genes that store fatty molecules and plumper fat cells (specifically in the abdominal region) compared to the control mice that nibbled throughout the day.1

Researchers also found that that glucose lingered in the blood of the intervention mice rather than stopping production due to stimulation from insulin.1,2

“This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people,” concluded Martha Belury, PhD, senior author of the study and professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University.1

“But you definitely don’t want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss,” she said.1

The complete study is published in the May issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

-Michelle Canales Butcher


1. The Ohio State University. In study, skipping meals is linked to abdominal weight gain. May 19, 2015. Accessed May 22, 2015.

2. Kliewer KL, Ke JY, Lee HY, et al. Short-term food restriction followed by controlled refeeding promotes gorging behavior, enhances fat deposition, and diminishes insulin sensitivity in mice. JNB. 2015 May [epub ahead of print] doi: