Can Eating Alone Be Bad For Your Heart?

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Nov. 3, 2021) – As women age, their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) exceeds that of men largely due to the decrease in estrogen levels that regulate vascular function. Therefore, there is a lot of research focused on various risk factors. A new study suggests that eating alone may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease in older women. The results of the study are published online today in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

As part of the overall effort to reduce the incidence of CVD, there has been a growing awareness of healthy eating habits; However, the importance of having a meal companion has been largely overlooked in previous studies. Recent changes in society have caused more people to eat alone than ever before. One of the main reasons is the increase in the number of one-person households. Social distancing protocols introduced in response to the COVID19 pandemic have further restricted eating with others. In addition, mobile platforms for food delivery services have become more popular, further motivating people to eat on their own.

With more and more people eating alone, health concerns have arisen. A previous study reported that a higher frequency of eating alone is associated with a higher risk of abdominal obesity and high blood pressure. When eating on their own, people tend to eat faster, which often leads to increased body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels, which can increase blood fat levels. risk of metabolic syndrome and CVD.

Eating alone can also affect mental health and has been reported as a risk factor for depression, which is also linked to an increased risk of CVD. Although these results suggest that eating alone is a risk factor for CVD in older women, few studies have investigated the relationship between eating alone and the prevalence of CVD. Researchers in this study of nearly 600 postmenopausal women over the age of 65 sought to compare health behaviors and nutritional status between older women who eat alone and those who eat with others and to study the relationship between eating alone and the prevalence of CVD and its risk factors in older women.

Based on the results of this study, the researchers concluded that older women who ate alone had lower nutritional knowledge and intakes. Specifically, older women who ate alone were found to have lower intakes of energy, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sodium, and potassium than those who ate with others. Additionally, older women who ate alone were 2.58 times more likely to have angina, a type of chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart and a symptom of coronary artery disease. These results suggest the value of nutrition education and screening for cardiovascular disease for older women who eat primarily alone.

The results of the study are published in the article “Association between diet alone and cardiovascular disease in older women: a cross-sectional study of data from KNHANES 2016”.

“This study shows that older women who eat alone are more likely to have symptomatic heart disease. They are also more likely to be widowed and have lower incomes and lower nutritional intake. These results are not surprising given that lower socioeconomic status and social isolation contribute to a lower quality of life, higher rates of depression, and poorer health. Since women live longer than men, finding ways for older women who are socially isolated to engage and create meaningful social connections can not only improve their nutrition, but also their overall health while simultaneously reducing health care costs ”, explains Dr Stéphanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

For more information on menopause and healthy aging, visit www.menopause.org.

Founded in 1989, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is the premier nonprofit organization in North America dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women in their midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging. Its multidisciplinary members of 2,000 leaders in the field, including experts in the clinical and basic sciences of medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy and education, make NAMS a unique resource for healthcare professionals and the public for accurate and unbiased information on menopause and healthy aging. To learn more about NAMS, visit www.menopause.org.


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