Selected eating behaviours and excess body weight: a systematic review

Obes Rev. 2012 Feb;13(2):106-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00936.x. Epub 2011 Sep 28.


The relationship between obesity and the intake of macronutrients and specific foods is uncertain. Thus, there is growing interest in some eating behaviours because they may reflect the joint effect of several foods and nutrients and, thus, increase the likelihood of finding a link to obesity. This study examined the association between selected eating behaviours and excess weight in the general population throughout a systematic review of publications written in English, Spanish or Portuguese identified in a PubMed search up to 31 December 2010. We included 153 articles, 73 of which have been published since 2008. Only 30 studies had a prospective design; of these, 15 adjusted for sociodemographic variables, physical activity and energy or food intake. Moreover, definitions of eating behaviours varied substantially across studies. We found only small or inconsistent evidence of a relationship between excess weight and skipping breakfast, daily eating frequency, snacking, irregular meals, eating away from home, consumption of fast food, takeaway food intake, consumption of large food portions, eating until full and eating quickly. In conclusion, this review highlights the difficulty in measuring human behaviour, and suggests that a more systematic approach is needed for capturing the effects of eating behaviours on body weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Public Health*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats