Meal patterns associated with energy intake in people with obesity
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBritish Journal of Nutrition. 2021. 10.1017/S0007114521002580
It is widely assumed that people with obesity have several common eating patterns, including breakfast-skipping (1), eating during the night (2) and high fast-food consumption (3). However, differences in individual meal and dietary patterns may be crucial to optimizing obesity treatment. Therefore, we investigated the inter-individual variation in eating patterns, hypothesizing that individuals with obesity show different dietary and meal patterns, and that these associate with self-reported energy intake (rEI) and/or anthropometric measures. Cross-sectional data from 192 participants (aged 20–55 years) with obesity, including 6 days of weighed food records, were analyzed. Meal patterns and dietary patterns were derived using exploratory hierarchical cluster analysis and k-means cluster analysis, respectively. Five clear meal patterns were found based on the time-of-day with the highest mean rEI. The daily rEI (mean ± SD kcal) was highest among “midnight-eaters” (2550 ± 550), and significantly (p < 0.05) higher than “dinner-eaters” (2060 ± 550), “lunch-eaters” (2080 ± 520), and “supper-eaters” (2100 ± 460), but not “regular-eaters” (2330 ± 650). Despite differences of up to 490 kcal between meal patterns, there were no significant differences in anthropometric measures or physical activity level (PAL). Four dietary patterns were also found with significant differences in intake of specific food groups, but without significant differences in anthropometry, PAL, or rEI. Our data highlight meal timing as a determinant of individual energy intake in people with obesity. The study supports the importance of considering a person’s specific meal pattern, with possible implications for more person-focused guidelines and targeted advice.