The effects of an intermittent fasting diet (IFD) in the general population are still controversial. In this study, we aimed to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of an IFD to reduce body mass index and glucose metabolism in the general population without diabetes mellitus. Cochrane, PubMed, and Embase databases were searched to identify randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials that compared an IFD with a regular diet or a continuous calorie restriction diet. The effectiveness of an IFD was estimated by the weighted mean difference (WMD) for several variables associated with glucometabolic parameters including body mass index (BMI) and fasting glucose. The pooled mean differences of outcomes were calculated using a random effects model. From 2814 studies identified through a literature search, we finally selected 12 articles (545 participants). Compared with a control diet, an IFD was associated with a significant decline in BMI (WMD, −0.75 kg/m2; 95% CI, −1.44 to −0.06), fasting glucose level (WMD, −4.16 mg/dL; 95% CI, −6.92 to −1.40), and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (WMD, −0.54; 95% CI, −1.05 to −0.03). Fat mass (WMD, −0.98 kg; 95% CI, −2.32 to 0.36) tended to decrease in the IFD group with a significant increase in adiponectin (WMD, 1008.9 ng/mL; 95% CI, 140.5 to 1877.3) and a decrease in leptin (WMD, −0.51 ng/mL; 95% CI, −0.77 to −0.24) levels. An IFD may provide a significant metabolic benefit by improving glycemic control, insulin resistance, and adipokine concentration with a reduction of BMI in adults.
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