We recommend you call a friend for dinner tonight — or, if you want to save your mom’s life, too, plan a family meal. According to recent research published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, people who eat at least two meals alone each day are more likely to experience metabolic syndrome than those who find friends.
The study didn’t specify whether your cat counted as adequate dinner company, but we doubt it.
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a huge group of metabolic abnormalities qualified as risk factors for life-threatening conditions. Those who experience metabolic syndrome are more likely to later develop diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among other afflictions. Metabolic abnormalities can be deadly.
So, yeah — you want your metabolism to be normal. And eating alone does not help.
The study investigated 7,725 adults over the age of 19. In total, participants who ate alone two or more times each day tended to be unmarried, live alone, and eat out with friends less often. If you chronically order in and stay home on Friday nights, you can probably relate.
For women, the risk wasn’t so bad — men had a harder time dealing with meals solo. In fact, men who ate alone had a 45 percent greater risk of being obese and a 64 percent greater risk of metabolic syndrome from eating by themselves. Women who ate alone were still affected with a 29 percent greater risk of metabolic syndrome — but once researchers accounted for other factors like income and lifestyle, the increase was deemed negligible. Men’s metabolisms had a much harder time with loneliness than women’s did.
Of course, the simple act of eating alone might not be the underlying problem causing people’s metabolisms to shift. Researchers say that other lifestyle factors, including stress, emotional stability, and dietary habits could play a role. In fact, there are upwards of 20 unrelated factors that could help slow down a person’s metabolism.