Increased eating frequency linked to decreased obesity and improved metabolic outcomes

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We previously reported that more frequent eating in overweight minority youth was linked to lower visceral adiposity and circulating triglycerides. The aim of this study was to examine this issue in more detail by assessing the relationship between eating frequency and adiposity and metabolic disease risk in a cohort of exclusively overweight Hispanic youth.


This analysis included 191 overweight (≥85th percentile body mass index (BMI)) Hispanic youth (8-18 years) with the following cross-sectional measures: height, weight, BMI, dietary intake via multiple 24 h recalls, body composition via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, lipids and insulin action (insulin sensitivity, acute insulin response (AIR) and disposition index, a measure of β-cell function) via a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test. Each eating occasion (EO) was defined as ≥ 50 calories and ≥ 15 min from any prior EO. Infrequent eaters (IEs) were classified as any subject who ate < 3 EOs on any dietary recall (n = 32), whereas frequent eaters (FEs) always consumed ≥ 3 EOs (n = 159).


Using analyses of covariance, FEs compared with IEs consumed 23% more calories per day (P ≤ 0.01), ate 40% more often and consumed 19% less calories per EO (P ≤ 0.01). FEs also exhibited 9% lower BMI Z-scores (P ≤ 0.01), 9% lower waist circumferences (P ≤ 0.01), 29% lower fasting insulin (P = 0.02), 31% lower HOMA-IR (Homeostatic Model Assessment: Insulin Resistance) values (P = 0.02) and 19% lower triglycerides (P ≤ 0.01), as well as an 11% higher AIR (P = 0.02) and 31% higher disposition index (P = 0.01). The following a priori covariates were included: Tanner, sex, body fat and reported energy intake.


These findings suggest that increased eating frequency is related to decreased obesity and metabolic disease risk in overweight Hispanic youth, despite increases in energy intake.

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