Does eating alone make you gain weight?

A large Korean study on diet and health focused on the parameter of meals taken alone or accompanied. Result: the more you mage alone, the more you develop a metabolic syndrome whose most visible characteristic, but not the only one, is weight gain. Paradoxically, women resist weight gain better by eating breakfast alone.

In addition to the nutritional composition of what is ingested, the context in which food intake takes place has already appeared as a factor associated with various health-related characteristics: the sound environment, the setting, the number of chews and their noise, the speed with which we eat, etc. have already been the subject of several studies. Eating alone has also been associated with less healthy food choices than eating together. This is what motivated this team of Korean researchers to comb through the profile of meal intake alone to detect possible associations with the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Three meals eaten alone: ​​weight gain

In this study of nearly 9,000 women and men enrolled in the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013-2015, the authors established 8 profiles for eating meals alone:

  • 3 times/day: morning, noon and evening
  • 2 times/day: morning and evening
  • 2 times/day: noon and evening
  • 2 times/day: morning and noon
  • 1 time/day: breakfast
  • 1 time/day: noon
  • 1 time/day: evening
  • never eat alone

After correcting for various risk factors, including age, income, number of family members, marital status, smoking and physical activity, the authors find that the metabolic syndrome is highest in women and men aged 40 to 64 who eat the three main meals alone.

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Metabolic syndrome increases by 50% in men who eat alone

Same trend in men who eat alone either in the evening or at lunchtime and in the evening, who see their risk of presenting with metabolic syndrome increased by around 50%, compared to those who do not eat alone.

However, the relationship is not as simple as that, and it is an inverse relationship that is found in women who eat breakfast alone, with a reduction in the risk of metabolic syndrome of around 30%. .

Food as a social bond

The authors explain that food not only has the role of nourishing, but that it also helps to build the social fabric and the relationships between people. And that eating alone could reflect the transition to a society characterized by individualism and isolation, which could affect dietary balance.


Chul-Kyoo K. et al., Eating Alone is Differentially Associated with the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Korean Men and Women. Int J Environ Res Public Health., 2018; 15(5): 1020.

Also read: Obesity is contagious


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