Obese people trying to slim down should eat six smaller meals per day instead of the normal three, according to experts

Eating six small meals a day may result in more significant weight loss than eating three large meals, a Greek study revealed.

To carry out the research, a team of health experts at the Athens University Medical School examined 47 participants with either type-2 diabetes or prediabetes during a 24-week study period. The participants were instructed to follow a daily six-meal plan.

The research team found that while the participants’ body weight remained stable during the study, eating six small meals and maintaining the same overall calorie intake throughout the day helped reduce their blood sugar levels. This indicates a marked improvement in the volunteers’ glucose control, the experts said. The study participants who followed a six-meal plan also showed significant reductions in hunger levels and less desire to eat in-between meals.

“Our 24-week weight maintenance study showed that using a six-meal pattern instead of three-meal, while containing the same overall calories, improved blood sugar control and reduced hunger in obese people with prediabetes or full-blown diabetes. These results suggest that increased frequency of meals, consumed at regular times, may be a useful tool for doctors treating subjects with obesity and diabetes or prediabetes, especially those who are reluctant or unsuccessful dieters,” lead researcher Dr. Emilia Papakonstantinou told Daily Mail online.

However, an outside expert stressed that professional help should be sought before undergoing drastic dietary changes.

“There is not no one-size-fits-all approach to dieting for people with type-2 diabetes, so it is important that any approach fits in with the individuals lifestyle and personal preferences. Anyone thinking of drastically changing their meal frequency should speak to their diabetes team first, as this may affect their medications,” said Douglas Twenefour, Deputy Head of Care at Diabetes U.K.

The findings were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal.

Small frequent meals may also stave off hypertension

Eating small, frequent meals not only boost metabolism and weight loss, but may also improve the body’s cardiovascular profile, various studies showed.

In one study, a team of researchers at the Imperial College London examined 2,000 participants from various countries — such as China, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. — who were instructed to eat either less than or more than six meals a day.

The researchers found that participants who ate less than six meals daily often had higher systolic blood pressure and were significantly heavier than those who ate more than six meals daily. (Related: Smaller, More Frequent Meals Prevents Rise in Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure.)

Another study carried out by the University of Athens showed that children who ate five meals or more a day were about a third less likely to have high bad cholesterol rates. In yet another research, health experts at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that consuming up to four meals daily may help bolster metabolism and reduce the risk of developing obesity.

Results may show potential in current obesity epidemic

The findings from both recent and previous studies show potential in alleviating obesity rates in the U.S.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that more than 36 percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. currently suffer from excess weight. According to the CDC, the total annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion, with obese adults costing the nation $1,429 more per person compared with the slimmer counterparts.

The health agency also showed that non-Hispanic black adults have the highest age-adjusted obesity rates at 48.1 percent. This was followed by Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites, and non-Hispanic Asians. The prevalence of childhood obesity was higher among Hispanics kids at 21.9 percent, followed by and non-Hispanic blacks at 19.5 percent.

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