Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential short-term benefits. However, a new study has raised concerns about the long-term effects of this dietary practice. While some people, including celebrities, have embraced intermittent fasting as a way to control their weight and improve their health, there may be serious consequences associated with this extreme form of dieting.

The study conducted by a team in China found a significant link between time-restricted eating (TRE) and cardiovascular disease as well as early death. Participants who restricted their food intake to an eating window of fewer than eight hours per day had a 91 percent higher risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. This risk was also observed among individuals with pre-existing heart disease or cancer. Interestingly, for those with cancer, eating over a period of 16 hours or more during the day was associated with a reduced risk of dying from cancer.

Epidemiologist Victor Zhong, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, highlighted the importance of focusing on what people eat rather than when they eat. While some studies have shown cardiovascular benefits of intermittent fasting, most of these studies are short-term and may not reflect the long-term impact on health. Zhong expressed concerns about the potential consequences of following a strict time-restricted eating schedule, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions.

The observational study included data from over 20,000 US adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003-2018. The participants’ mortality status was obtained from the CDC’s National Death Index as of December 2019. The findings revealed a strong association between time-restricted eating and increased risk of cardiovascular death, particularly among individuals with existing heart disease.

While the study identified links between time-restricted eating and cardiovascular mortality, it is essential to note that correlation does not imply causation. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind these associations and to determine the overall impact of intermittent fasting on long-term health outcomes. It is crucial for individuals, especially those with heart conditions or cancer, to be aware of the potential risks associated with extreme forms of dieting, such as time-restricted eating.

While intermittent fasting may offer short-term benefits, such as weight loss, the long-term effects on cardiovascular health and mortality are concerning. It is imperative for individuals considering intermittent fasting, particularly those with existing health conditions, to consult with healthcare professionals before implementing drastic dietary changes. More research is needed to fully understand the implications of time-restricted eating and its impact on overall health and well-being.


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