Intermittent Fasting Linked to Increased Heart Disease Mortality Risk in Study

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Intermittent Fasting

A recent study presented at a medical meeting has sparked concerns regarding the safety of intermittent fasting, a popular weight loss strategy that involves limiting food intake to specific timeframes. According to research shared in Chicago, adhering to an eating window of just eight hours a day is associated with a 91% increased risk of death from heart disease. This surprising finding, published in an abstract by the American Heart Association (AHA), has left the scientific community eager for more details about the study’s methodology.

As lifestyle interventions for weight loss come under increasing scrutiny, especially with the advent of new weight-loss medications, some experts have raised questions about the study’s conclusions. They suggest that the increased risk may be influenced by variables such as the underlying heart health of participants in the fasting group compared to those in the comparison group, who ate over a span of 12 to 16 hours daily.

Keith Frayn, emeritus professor of human metabolism at the University of Oxford, highlighted the popularity of time-restricted eating for calorie reduction. He emphasized the importance of the study for understanding the long-term effects of such practices but also noted the unanswered questions raised by the abstract.

The study, led by Victor Zhong of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, analyzed data from approximately 20,000 adults from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It examined responses to dietary recall questionnaires and death records from 2003 to 2019. However, the reliance on self-reported dietary data over two days introduced potential inaccuracies.

Notably, the fasting participants tended to be younger men with higher BMIs and food insecurity, exhibiting lower rates of hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease based on self-reports. Zhong mentioned that despite accounting for these variables, the link between 8-hour time-restricted eating and cardiovascular mortality persisted.

The abstract’s presentation at the AHA’s Lifestyle Scientific Sessions meeting has undoubtedly ignited a conversation on the need for more comprehensive research to fully understand the implications of intermittent fasting on heart health.

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