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Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Jan;32(1):23-9. Epub 2007 Jun 12.

The relationship between meal frequency and body mass index in black and white adolescent girls: more is less.

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  • 1Department of Counseling & Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA.



To document meal frequency and its relationship to body mass index (BMI) in a longitudinal sample of black and white girls from ages 9-19 years.


Ten-year longitudinal observational study.


At baseline, 1209 Black girls (539 age nine years, 670 age 10 years) and 1,166 White girls (616 age nine years, 550 age 10 years) were enrolled in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS).


Three-day food diaries, measured height and weight and self-reported physical activity and television viewing were obtained at annual in-person visits.


Over the course of the study, the percentage of girls eating 3+ meals on all 3 days was reduced by over half (15 vs 6%). Participants who ate 3+ meals on more days had lower BMI-for-age z-scores. Black girls, but not white girls, who ate 3+ meals on more days were less likely to meet criteria for overweight.


Meal frequency was related to BMI and should be considered when developing guidelines to prevent childhood overweight.

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