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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Apr;18(4):736-42. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.249. Epub 2009 Aug 20.

The influence of weekday eating patterns on energy intake and BMI among female elementary school personnel.

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Food Research and Action Center, Washington, DC, USA.


Many health practitioners recommend eating small, frequent meals for weight loss, yet the relationship of eating patterns, such as eating occasion frequency (EOF), to energy intake and body weight is controversial. Broad-based efforts to promote worksite wellness programs increase the importance of this issue, as many work environments inherently restrict eating patterns. The eating patterns of school personnel are understudied, but are of particular interest, not only because they have limited eating opportunities during the day but also because their diet and weight outcomes are likely to influence behaviors of a much larger population. We examined relationships between weekday EOF and energy intake and BMI among female elementary school personnel in 22 schools in a suburban county of southeastern Louisiana. Two 24-h dietary recalls were administered to randomly-selected employees (n = 329) on nonconsecutive days by registered dietitians. Measured heights and weights were used to calculate BMI (weight/height(2)). On average, employees consumed 2.2 of their total 5.9 meals and snacks during the school day, accounting for 37% of daily energy. In multiple regression models controlling for demographic and health variables, EOF as well as separate counts of meal and snack frequency were each positively and significantly associated with energy intake. However, neither the number of meals, snacks, nor overall EOF was associated with BMI. The proportion of energy consumed during the school day and the positive association of weekday EOF with energy intake suggest an important role for worksite wellness programs that target the dietary improvement of elementary school personnel.

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