Taylor, Jake

Meal Frequency and ObesityJake TaylorNutrition
Generally, obesity is thought to be related to eating a lot and very frequently. However, there is reason to believe that meal frequency and obesity have an inverse effect on each other, meaning if you eat more frequent you could actually lose weight. I believe that if you eat the right kinds of foods and have smaller portions that eating more frequent can help you lose weight.

Frequent vs Non-frequent
There have been many studies that have been run based on this question. Many of the experiments are run such that they take a group of people and divide them into two groups, those who eat frequent and those who do not. Their results are then monitored.

Fabry et al.

[13] (1964)
379 older males (60-64 yrs)
Frequency of food intake survey, calculation to determine overweight classification, triceps and sub-scapular skin-folds, and blood variables
Ingesting > 5 meals/d, as compared to < 3 meals/d, significantly improves overweight classification and subcutaneous fat
Hedja & Fabry [14]

89 males (30-50 yrs)
2 week diet records along with height, body

weight, and 12 site skinfold thickness
The group that ate less than 4 meals/day had a significantly greater body mass and skin-fold averages than those that ate > 5 meals/day
Metzner et al. [15]

948 males and 1080 females (35-69 yrs)
24 hour diet record interview, calculated adiposity index (i.e., calculated using triceps and subscapular skinfold measurements,

height, and weight)
Adiposity index was inversely related (significantly) to meal frequency in both men and women after adjusting for caloric intake.In summary, as meal frequency increased, overweight classification decreased.
Drummond et al. [16]

42 males and 37 females (20-55 yrs)
with a BMI from 18-30. (Suspected
under-reporters were excluded from
final analysis)
7 day food diary; 7 day activity diary, 48 hour HR monitoring, 4 site skinfold thickness, height, and body weight.
Significant negative correlation between eating frequency and body weight was observed in males, but not females. Eating frequency was significantly correlated with total energy intake in females, but not in males. In both men and women no significant correlations between eating frequency and total energy expenditure were observed
Ruidavets et al. [17]

330 males (45-64 yrs)
3 day diet record, estimated physical activity (i.e., leisure, work related, and walking/cycling to work), body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio
After eliminating under reporters (new sample size = 297) and restrained eaters (new sample size = 243), a significant negative correlation between eating frequency and BMI as well as waist-to-hip ratio was observed.
Ma et al.
[18] (2003)
251 males and 248 females (20-70)
24 hour dietary recalls, physical activity recalls, body weight, BMI, and physical activity recalls were collected every 3 months for 1 year
After adjusting for age, sex, physical activity, education, and total energy intake, participants reporting 4 or more eating episodes per day had a significantly lower risk of developing obesity than those eating 3 or fewer times per day.
Franko et al.
[19] (2008)
1,209 black and 1,166 white female
school children (9-19 yrs
Multiple 3-day food diaries taken over several years, height, weight, and self reported physical activity
Girls between 9-19 years old, that ate 3 or more meals per day had significantly lower BMI-for-age Z scores.
As one can tell from the table many different factors play a role in whether or not a specific group should eat more frequent. Judging from the table, it shows that at younger ages eating more frequently can prove to be very beneficial. However, as people begin to get older eating more frequent meals does not have the same effects. For younger people the correlation of meal frequency to obesity is directly inverse, however at certain older ages the amount of fat and overweight classification increase. Therefore, many factors depend on when you should eat. At a young age eating more frequently increases ones metabolism and keeps it active throughout the day so it can digest foods quicker. eating frequently can also help maintain muscle mass, increase concentration and mood, and keep your blood sugar up, which is important for those with diabetes. When eating in irregular fashion, the metabolism is not as active and thus slows the process at which food is broken down. Eating irregularly can cause cardiovascular disease and can even be linked to insulin resistance However, at an older age it appears that one should stick to the typical 3 meals a day.

What/How to Eat
When eating more frequent it is important to eat differently than you would when only consuming three meals a day. Since you are eating more meals a day, around 6 is recommended, it is important to keep a few things in mind. First, you may not eat as much food in one sitting. Studies have shown that eating smaller more frequent meals actually support weight loss. This being said it is important that you get enough food to satisfy you without over indulging yourself. Secondly, make your meals nutritious. Since you are eating more it is important that what you are putting into your body is beneficial to your body. Finally, timing is key. You want to make sure that you are spacing out your food consumption enough to make sure that you can continue to lose weight. A food schedule that you could follow could look like this
  • 7:00 a.m.: Meal #1 (breakfast)
  • 10:00 a.m.: Meal #2 (shake or snack)
  • 1:00 p.m.: Meal #3 (lunch)
  • 4:00 p.m.: Meal #4 (shake or snack)
  • 5:30 p.m.: Workout
  • 6:30 p.m.: Meal #5 (Dinner)
  • 9:30 p.m.: Meal #6 (Shake or Snack)
By following this type of meal plane it could ensure that you are spacing out your meals properly to get the maximum out of the food being put into your body. I can not stress this enough, when you are eating more frequently it is important that the food being put into your body is nutritious for you.

It is a common misconception that if you eat more often you will gain weight. If one eats more frequent it can increase ones metabolism which will help the person be able to break down food faster, along with other benefits such as maintaining muscle mass, increased concentration and blood sugar, and ones mood. I believe that by eating more frequently, one may actually feel better because they are getting the proper amounts of nutrients in them but they are keeping their metabolism active causing them to break down their food quickly and help them lose weight, as long as they are able to control their food intake. I would recommend making the switch to eating more frequently, as long as one can keep meal sizes down and exercise up. There are more benefits to eating more frequently than infrequent that will leave the consumer feeling better about their body.

1. Association between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free Living US Adult Population,

2 Chapter 9: Meal Frequency and Timing,
http://www.herbalifenutritioninstitute.com/en/nutrition-science/pdf/Chapter_9_Meal_Frequency.pdf d

3 International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Meal Frequency

4 Why You Should Eat Often, October 2nd, 2012,

5 The Truth About 6 Meals a Day for Weight Loss


I chose this topic because it seemed very relatable to me. I am usually snacking or eating fairly frequently throughout the day, so this topic hit fairly close to home. I also wondered if obesity was related to how much you eat or how often you eat. For my fact sheet assignment i think I will probably include the meal sizes as well as which types of foods are better to eat more frequently