Assessing “chaotic eating” using self-report and the UK Adult National Diet and Nutrition Survey: No association between BMI and variability in meal or snack timings

Annie R. Zimmerman*, Laura Johnson, Jeffrey M. Brunstrom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

3 Citations (Scopus)
268 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Although regular meal timings are recommended for weight loss, no study has characterised irregularity in the timing of eating occasions or investigated associations with body-mass index (BMI). Here, we characterise ‘chaotic eating’ as the tendency to eat at variable times of day. In two studies, we used a novel measure to explore the relationship between BMI and chaotic eating. In Study 1 (N = 98) we measured BMI and used a self-report measure to assess the usual range of times that meals and snacks are consumed over a seven-day period, as well as meal and snack frequency. A separate meal and snack ‘chaotic eating index’ was derived from the number of possible thirty-minute snack- or meal-slots, divided by the frequency of these eating events. After adjusting for age, gender, and dietary habits (Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire) we found no relationship between BMI and chaotic eating of meals (β = - 0.07, p = 0.73) or snacks (β = -.10, p = 0.75). In Study 2, we calculated the same chaotic eating index (meals and snacks) using data from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey of adults 2000-2001 (seven-day diet diaries; N = 1175). Again, we found little evidence that BMI is associated with chaotic eating of meals (β = 0.16, p = 0.27) or snacks (β = 0.15, p = 0.12). Together, these results suggest that irregular eating timings do not promote weight gain and they challenge guidelines that recommend regularity in meal timings for weight loss.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Early online date24 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2018

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour
  • Physical and Mental Health

Keywords

  • BMI
  • Chaotic eating
  • Irregular eating
  • Meal timings
  • Obesity

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    NIHR BRC Nutrition

    Ness, A. R.

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