Prospective Study of Skipping Meals to Lose Weight as a Predictor of Incident Type 2 Diabetes With Potential Modification by Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: The Canadian 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey

Allie S. Carew, Rania A. Mekary, Susan Kirkland, Olga Theou, Ferhan Siddiqi, Robin Urquhart, Chris Blanchard, Ratika Parkash, Mark Bennett, Kerry L. Ivey, Kenneth Mukamal, Frank Hu, Eric B. Rimm, Leah E. Cahill

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Skipping meals is an increasingly common practice to lose weight among North American adults. However, the long-term effect of this practice on incident type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) remains unknown. We assessed whether skipping meals to lose weight is associated with T2DM risk and whether this association is modified by cardiometabolic risk factors. Methods: Skipping meals to lose weight was assessed by questionnaire in 2,288 adults from the 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey and was linked to administrative health databases to determine T2DM incidence in the following 23 years. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models estimated hazard ratios (aHRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for T2DM. Results: During follow up, 378 T2DM cases were diagnosed. Compared with participants who did not skip meals to lose weight, those who did (2.2%) had a 125% higher risk of T2DM (aHR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.31 to 3.86). This association was no longer present after further adjustment for baseline body mass index (BMI) (aHR, 1.66; 95% CI, 0.96 to 2.85). Skipping meals to lose weight was associated with T2DM among participants who were men (n=1,135; aHR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.09 to 4.02) or had a BMI <30 kg/m2 (n=1,676; aHR, 2.64, 95% CI, 1.15 to 6.06), elevated cholesterol (n=1,146; aHR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.06 to 4.22), high blood pressure (n=1,133; aHR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.10 to 4.01) and restless sleep (n=1,186; aHR, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.13 to 4.25), but not among women, those with a BMI of ≥30 kg/m2 and those without elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure or restless sleep. Conclusions: Skipping meals to lose weight may be a predictive modifiable risk factor for developing T2DM over time, potentially working in connection with other T2DM risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-312
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Diabetes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jun 2021


  • epidemiology
  • nutrition
  • prevention
  • skipping meals to lose weight
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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