You’ve heard that eating too much in the evening can take a toll on your waistline. That might not actually be true — more on that shortly — but it may still be smart to get most of your calories earlier in the day.

The reason: Eating a lot after 6 PM is associated with a greater risk of high blood pressure and prediabetes, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s 2018 Scientific Sessions.

To conduct the study, researchers interviewed 12,708 participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos and asked them on two occasions to provide information about what they had eaten and when in the previous 24 hours. They then calculated the percentage of calories that each person had consumed after 6 PM to see how it correlated with body fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

Interestingly, those who consumed at least 30 percent of their daily calories after 6 PM were *not* any more likely to be overweight that those who ate less than 30 percent of their calories after that time.

But they did have a 19 percent higher chance of having prediabetes, as indicated by fasting blood sugar and insulin tests. They were also 23 percent more likely to have high blood pressure (hypertension).

Does when you eat matter more than what you eat? Not necessarily, as the researchers note that “randomized trials are needed to determine whether changing meal-timing behaviors can reduce [cardiovascular disease] risk.”

It’s also worth mentioning that this study only included people of Hispanic/Latino descent, so the findings might not be applicable to others with different ancestry.

In the meantime, it’s probably can’t hurt to “eat smaller evening meals, avoid consuming a lot of calories in the evening, and reduce night time eating” in general, study author Nour Makarem, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City, told MedPage Today.

 

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