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A new study found that skipping meals can be detrimental to a person’s health, Science Alert reported.

Researchers analyzed data about more than 24,000 US adults above the age of 40 to examine the correlations of meal frequency, skipping, and intervals with all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

They also adjusted their findings to account for differences in diet and lifestyles, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity levels, and food quality.

Their analysis showed that skipping breakfast was associated with a greater risk of dying from CVD, while not eating lunch or dinner was associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality, including a rise in CVD risk.

The results were not any better for individuals that ate all three meals but had them too close together: Eating two adjacent meals within 4.5 hours of each other has also been associated with an elevated risk of all-cause death.

The team noted that meal-skipping was more common among smokers, individuals who drank more alcohol, ate less nutritious food, and had more snacks.

However, they emphasized that their findings “do not imply causality,” explaining that other factors might be at play and further research is necessary to determine if meal-skipping actually causes earlier death.

“Based on these findings, we recommend eating at least two to three meals spread throughout the day,” said lead author Yangbo Sun.

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