The role of eating frequency on relative weight in urban school-age children

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Abstract

Background:

The role of eating frequency on relative weight in childhood is not well understood.

Objective:

To clarify this relationship by assessing the cross-sectional and prospective relationships of weekday eating frequency with BMI z-score (BMIz) and change in BMIz in a sample of schoolchildren.

Methods:

Eating frequency, the average number of reported daily eating occasions, was assessed using two weekday 24-h diet recalls. BMIz was measured at baseline, 6 months and 1 year in 155 urban schoolchildren, ages 9–15 years. Multiple linear regression models were used.

Results:

Cross-sectional analyses at baseline suggest that BMIz was 0.23 units lower for each additional reported eating occasion (regression coefficient = −0.23; 95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.44, −0.07). From baseline to 6 months, BMIz increased by 0.03 units for each additional reported eating occasion (regression coefficient = 0.03; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.05). This relationship was no longer statistically significant at 1 year (regression coefficient = 0.01; 95% CI: −0.01, 0.03).

Conclusions:

The findings suggest that the relationship of eating frequency with BMIz differs from that of change in BMIz. This difference may be due to methodological deficiencies of cross-sectional studies, challenges of dietary assessment or differences in eating patterns among normal and overweight youth. Controlled trials are needed to further clarify this relationship.

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