Eating alone and metabolic syndrome: A population-based Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013-2014

Obes Res Clin Pract. 2018 Mar-Apr;12(2):146-157. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2017.09.002. Epub 2017 Oct 20.


Eating alone has been an emerging social concern in modern life. However, there is little research on the association between eating alone and Metabolic syndrome (MetS). We aimed to assess the association between eating alone and the MetS and to identify whether sociodemographic factors modify this association. This study included 7725 adults (≥19 years) who participated in the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) 2013-2014. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used for assessing the association of eating alone (none, 1 time/day, and ≥2 times/day) with MetS. The percentages of subjects with MetS were 30.4% in men and 24.2% in women. 20.8% of men and 29.2% of women ate alone ≥2 times/day. Individuals who ate alone 2 or more times per day showed higher frequency of living alone, having no spouse, skip meals, and less eating out (p<0.05). Women with eating alone ≥2 times/day had a crude OR of 1.29 (95% CI:1.08-1.53, p-trend=0.001) for MetS compared with women without eating alone. However, this association was no longer significant after adjustments for confounding factors. Eating alone ≥2 times/day was significantly associated with increase abdominal obesity (OR, 95% CI:1.45, 1.10-1.91, p-trend=0.039) and MetS (1.64, 1.28-2.10, p-trend=0.004) in men. Eating alone was associated with a higher likelihood of having a MetS in men without spouse as compared with those with spouse (OR for men without spouse 3.02, 95% CI:1.50-6.11 and OR for men with spouse 1.48, 95% CI:1.22-1.7, p-interaction=0.027). Our results indicate that eating alone may be a potential risk factor for MetS.

Keywords: Abdominal obesity; Commensality; Eating alone; Living alone; Metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / etiology
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Behavior
  • Young Adult