DM LONDON - Struggling to lose that spare tyre around your waist? Tuck in, say scientists.

A big breakfast and a large lunch is better at controlling weight and blood sugar levels than six small meals a day, researchers claim.

A study found that two hearty meals rather than constant snacking is best for people with type 2 diabetes – but could also benefit anyone trying to slim. In tests, those eating big platefuls twice a day lost a quarter of a stone more than people who tend to dip in and out of the food cupboard. The results seem to support the old adage: ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and have dinner like a pauper.’ The latest study comes after  a report earlier this month  suggesting snacking is worse  for health than three big meals  a day. Dutch researchers found that the frequent munching of high-fat and high-sugar foods increased cholesterol stores in the liver and fat around the waist – but eating larger portions did not.

The latest study led by a team from the Czech Republic looked at 54 patients aged between 30 and 70 who were being treated for type 2 diabetes – the most common form of the disease, which is usually controlled by diet. They were asked to follow one  of two diets, each containing  500 calories less than the recommended daily amount.  One group of 27 ate six small meals for 12 weeks, while the second had  a large meal at breakfast and lunchtime.  Each group then switched regimens – which both had the same macronutrient  and calorie content – and continued for a further three months.

The research team took measurements of liver fat content, insulin sensitivity and the function of  pancreatic beta cells – which  produce insulin.

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, revealed that body weight fell in both diets – but there was a greater loss for those eating bigger meals.

Those eating twice a day lost around half a stone (3.7kg), compared with just over a quarter of a stone (2.3kg) for the snackers.  Liver fat content also reduced for both groups, but by a slightly larger amount for those on two large daily meals.