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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Nov;16(11):2518-23. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.404. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

Are eating occasions and their energy content related to child overweight and socioeconomic status?

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  • 1French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA), Dietary Survey Unit-Nutritional Epidemiology, Maisons-Alfort, France.


The objectives of this study were: (i) to assess the relationships between childhood overweight (OW) and four eating behaviors: daily eating frequency, and the relative contribution of breakfast, main meals (lunch and dinner), and snacks to total daily energy intake (EI); (ii) to explore whether these eating behaviors are involved in the negative association between socioeconomic status (SES) and OW. A representative sample of French children aged 3-11 years (n = 748) was taken from the 1998-1999 cross-sectional French INCA1 (EnquĂȘte Individuelle et Nationale sur les Consommations Alimentaires) food consumption survey. Food intake was reported in a 7-day food record, and SES, physical activity, sedentary behavior (SED), weight, and height were reported by answering face-to-face questionnaires. After adjusting for EI, physical activity, and SED, OW was positively associated with the contribution of the main meals to EI (P = 0.03), not significantly associated with the contribution of breakfast to EI, and inversely correlated to the number of eating episodes (P = 0.009) and to the contribution of snacking episodes to EI (P = 0.007). Our data suggest that a combination of more frequent intake occasions and lower contribution of the main meals to total daily EI is associated with a smaller risk of OW in children. However, eating frequency was the only eating behavior that played a slight mediation role (contributing approximately 8%) in the inverse relationship between SES and OW.

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