Meal patterns and obesity in Swedish women-a simple instrument describing usual meal types, frequency and temporal distribution

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Aug;56(8):740-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601387.


Objective: To characterize meal patterns in relation to obesity in Swedish women using a simple instrument describing meal frequency, meal types and temporal distribution.

Design: Cross-sectional parallel group design.

Subjects: Eighty-three obese women from the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study were compared with 94 reference women, randomly recruited from the population.

Method: A new, simplified and self-instructing questionnaire was used to assess meal patterns. Usual meal pattern was reported as time and meal type for each intake episode during a typical day.

Results: The obese women consumed 6.1 meals/day compared with 5.2 meals/day among the reference women (P<0.0001). All types of meals except 'drink meals' were significantly more frequently consumed in the obese group. The obese women also displayed a different meal pattern across the day, consuming a larger number of meals later in the day. As a result a larger fraction of each obese woman's total meals were consumed in the afternoon and in the evening/night. There was no difference in the number of obese vs reference women consuming breakfast. Snack meals were positively associated with total energy intake in both groups.

Conclusions: A new simplified method assessing meal pattern revealed that the number of reported intake occasions across a usual day was higher in obese women compared with controls and the timing was shifted to later in the day. These findings should be considered in the treatment of obesity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors