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J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Nov;111(11):1730-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.006.

Eating frequency is higher in weight loss maintainers and normal-weight individuals than in overweight individuals.

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Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Marywood University, Scranton, PA 18509-1598, USA.


Eating frequency has been negatively related to body mass index (BMI). The relationship between eating frequency and weight loss maintenance is unknown. This secondary analysis examined eating frequency (self-reported meals and snacks consumed per day) in weight loss maintainers (WLM) who had reduced from overweight/obese to normal weight, normal weight (NW) individuals, and overweight (OW) individuals. Data collected July 2006 to March 2007 in Providence, RI, included three 24-hour dietary recalls (2 weekdays, 1 weekend day) analyzed using Nutrient Data System for Research software from 257 adults (WLM n=96, 83.3% women aged 50.0±11.8 years with BMI 22.1±1.7; NW n=80, 95.0% women aged 46.1±11.5 years with BMI 21.1±1.4; OW n=81, 53.1% women aged 51.4±9.0 years with BMI 34.2±4.1) with plausible intakes. Participant-defined meals and snacks were ≥50 kcal and separated by more than 1 hour. Self-reported physical activity was highest in WLM followed by NW, and then OW (3,097±2,572 kcal/week, 2,062±1,286 kcal/week, and 785±901 kcal/week, respectively; P<0.001). Number of daily snacks consumed was highest in NW, followed by WLM, and then OW (2.3±1.1 snacks/day, 1.9±1.1 snacks/day, and 1.5±1.3 snacks/day, respectively; P<0.001). No significant group differences were observed in mean number of meals consumed (2.7±0.4 meals/day). Eating frequency, particularly in regard to a pattern of three meals and two snacks per day, may be important in weight loss maintenance.

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