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J Am Board Fam Med. 2008 Mar-Apr;21(2):135-40. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2008.02.070034.

Preventing or improving obesity by addressing specific eating patterns.

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  • 1Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.


The problem of obesity and overweight is an epidemic in the United States. Weight is a product of energy balance: energy intake versus energy expenditure. The purpose of this review is to identify adult eating behaviors that are known to strongly affect the energy intake side of the energy balance and that may be readily amenable to prevention and intervention efforts in primary care. Restaurant and fast food consumption, large portion sizes, and consumption of beverages with sugar added increase energy intake and are highly associated with weight gain and obesity. Conversely, consumption of low energy dense food, ie, fruits and vegetables, and routine healthy breakfast consumption can help to maintain or lose weight. These distinct behaviors represent concrete negative and positive eating patterns on which primary care providers can focus when counseling overweight and obese patients. They also represent behavioral targets for designing and testing clinical interventions.

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