The study involved 36 lean men randomized to a hypercaloric diet or a eucaloric balanced diet - for six weeks. The men were measured for intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) and abdominal fat using magnetic resonance imaging and insulin sensitivity before and after the diet.
The men on the hypercaloric diet ate three main meals along with additional calories from high-fat and high-sugar drinks with or in between their meals to increase meal size or meal frequency.
- High-calorie diets increased Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Eating more frequent meals significantly increased IHTG while larger-sized meals did not
- Belly fat increased in the high-fat/high-sugar frequency group and in the high-sugar frequency group
- A decrease in liver insulin sensitivity was found in the high-fat/high-sugar frequency group
American children consume up to 27% of calories from high-fat and high-sugar snacks, says lead author Dr. Mireille Serlie with the Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Our study examines if high-meal frequency with snacking compared to large meal consumption contributes to increased intrahepatic and abdominal fat. Our study provides the first evidence that eating more often - rather than consuming large meals - contributes to fatty liver independent of body weight gain. These findings suggest that by cutting down on snacking and encouraging three balanced meals each day over the long term may reduce the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Studies link obesity to the accumulation of abdominal fat and fat in the liver, which makes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease one of the most prevalent diseases of the liver. The World Health Organization reports that more than 200 million men and close to 300 million women were obese in 2008. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 36% of adult Americans and 17% of children are obese.