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For women's good health, sharing a meal with a companion is better

Eating alone poses as a threat in older women as it may increase the risk of heart disease.

As women age, the levels of estrogen that regulates vascular functions are decreased compared to those with men. Consequently, the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher.

Cardiovascular disease is a disorder which affects the heart or blood vessels. It is usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries and an increased risk of blood clots.

One effort to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been awareness of healthy eating habits. However a study published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society, stresses that the importance of having an eating companion has been overlooked.

With more people eating alone, health concerns have been raised. Once concern is eating alone can affect mental health. This has been reported as a risk factor for depression, which is also linked with an increased risk of CVD.

Furthermore, a study reported that a higher frequency of eating alone is associated with a higher risk of abdominal obesity because people tend to eat faster. Subsequently leading to increase in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels, all of which can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and CVD.

Recent changes such as mobile platforms for food delivery services have become more popular. The case with COVID-19 has also motivated people to eat alone due to strict health protocols and social distancing. Additionally, there is also a rise in the number of single persons in households.

"Given that women live longer than men, finding ways for older women who are socially isolated to engage and create meaningful social ties may not only improve their nutrition but also their overall health while simultaneously reducing healthcare costs," says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, North American Menopause Society (NAMS) medical director.

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