Are you dining alone this evening? If eating alone is commonplace for you, a new study might have you looking for a food partner.
People who eat most of their meals alone may be at increased risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to new research. A study found that men who dined solo at least twice a day were more likely to have metabolic syndrome — a cluster of three or more risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prediabetes — compared to those who always dined with others.
Previous research has also raised concerns about the psychological and physical health effects of eating alone, and the larger problem of loneliness, especially among older adults.
According to NBC News, “This link between loneliness and ill health makes perfect sense to Andrew Abeyta, assistant professor of the department of psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden, because loneliness has always been a risk factor for chronic disease and premature death.
“We rely on relationships for emotional support and stress management,” Abeyta explains. “Lonely people lack a strong social support systems and are therefore more vulnerable to the physical wears and tears of stress and anxiety. In turn, they’re at higher risk for developing stress-related diseases or conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.”
NetDoctor added, “It was concluded that men who dined solo at least twice a day were more likely to display symptoms such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prediabetes when compared to those who always dined with others.”
And TechTimes.com pointed out that men are more at risk to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of at least three of the following five medical conditions:
- abdominal (central) obesity,
- elevated fasting plasma glucose,
- elevated blood pressure,
- high serum triglycerides, and
- low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Results of the data gathering showed that eating alone has potential risk factors for metabolic syndrome for both sexes, but even more so for men. Taking into account factors such as lifestyle choices, educational levels, and job status, women who frequently ate alone were 29 percent likely to develop metabolic syndrome, while men who frequently ate alone were 45 percent more likely to be obese and 64 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome compared to those who often dined with companions.
BET.com ended its version of the story with something that sounded like it came straight out of the Healthiest State Handbook. “Sounds like not only do we need to be eating healthy, we also need to make eating together a priority.”
While dining solo can be great once-in-a-while, researchers clearly believe it is unhealthy if we do it too often. Do you agree? If so, how can we help to make sure those tables for one turn into tables for two or three? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Driving meaningful dialogue around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!