Skip to main content
Association Between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-Living U.S. Adult Population
American Journal of Epidemiology (2003)
  • Yunsheng Ma
  • Elizabeth R. Bertone
  • Edward J. Stanek
  • George W. Reed
  • James R. Herbert
  • Dr. Nancy L. Cohen, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Philip A. Merriam
  • Ira S. Ockene

Some studies have suggested that eating patterns, which describe eating frequency, the temporal distribution of eating events across the day, breakfast skipping, and the frequency of eating meals away from home, may be related to obesity. Data from the Seasonal Variation of Blood Cholesterol Study (1994–1998) were used to evaluate the relation between eating patterns and obesity. Three 24-hour dietary recalls and a body weight measurement were collected at five equally spaced time points over a 1-year period from 499 participants. Data were averaged for five time periods, and a cross-sectional analysis was conducted. Odds ratios were adjusted for other obesity risk factors including age, sex, physical activity, and total energy intake. Results indicate that a greater number of eating episodes each day was associated with a lower risk of obesity (odds ratio for four or more eating episodes vs. three or fewer = 0.55, 95% confidence interval: 0.33, 0.91). In contrast, skipping breakfast was associated with increased prevalence of obesity (odds ratio = 4.5, 95% confidence interval: 1.57, 12.90), as was greater frequency of eating breakfast or dinner away from home. Further investigation of these associations in prospective studies is warranted.

  • eating,
  • obesity,
  • odds ratio
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwg117
Citation Information
Yunsheng Ma, Elizabeth R. Bertone, Edward J. Stanek, George W. Reed, et al.. "Association Between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-Living U.S. Adult Population" American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 158 Iss. 1 (2003)
Available at: