Sweet eating: a definition and the development of the Dutch Sweet Eating Questionnaire

Obes Surg. 2011 Jun;21(6):714-21. doi: 10.1007/s11695-010-0094-2. Epub 2010 Mar 5.


Background: Previous studies have suggested that patients who are defined as so-called sweet eaters have more difficulties to lose weight and to maintain weight loss after both conservative treatment and restrictive bariatric surgery, such as gastric banding. There is, however, no agreement on the definition of sweet eating. Also, a questionnaire to measure sweet eating is not available. Therefore, the aim of our study was to agree on a definition of sweet eating and to construct a valid and reliable questionnaire that might be of help to assess the influence of sweet eating on weight loss after bariatric surgery.

Methods: A Delphi Study design was chosen to define sweet eating. Based on the Delphi rounds, a questionnaire with self-reported sweets intake was constructed and validated.

Results: Nine experts with different scientific backgrounds participated in the Delphi Study which consisted of four rounds. They finally agreed on the definition that sweet eating can be defined as an eating behavior in which at least 50% of daily consumed carbohydrates consist of simple carbohydrates and which can be triggered by emotional factors (i.e., stress). They did not include the intake of artificial sweeteners in the definition. The Dutch Sweet Eating Questionnaire built on the four Delphi rounds was tested in 138 female patients and appeared to be both valid and reliable.

Conclusion: A shortcoming of this study is that the results may not be applicable to males and to non-Western populations. The definition and the questionnaire may be useful in future research regarding sweet eating and bariatric surgery outcomes in morbidly obese patients.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Delphi Technique
  • Diet
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Dietary Sucrose*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Obesity, Morbid*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Sucrose