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More than a third of adults living in the United States have metabolic syndrome, a constellation of conditions that includes abdominal (central) obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, high serum triglycerides, and low high-density lipoprotein levels. People who have metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. A new study suggests that time-restricted eating may reduce this risk.

Time-restricted eating is a form of daily fasting that aligns eating and fasting cycles to the body’s innate 24-hour circadian system. People who practice time-restricted eating typically eat during an 8- to 12-hour daytime window and fast during the remaining 12 to 16 hours.

This study involved 19 adults (average age, 59 years) who had metabolic syndrome. Most of the participants were obese, took a statin or antihypertensive drug, and had poor blood glucose control. They followed a time-restricted eating pattern that allowed them to eat during a 10-hour daytime window with a 14-hour overnight fast for 12 weeks. No overt attempt to change physical activity or diet quality or quantity was required.

At the end of the study, participants exhibited reduced waist circumference and body fat, lowered blood pressure, and improvements in lipid profiles and blood glucose control. These findings suggest that time-restricted eating may have potential as an adjunct to current therapies to treat metabolic syndrome.

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