Several epidemiological studies in adults have suggested a favourable effect of frequent eating on blood lipid profiles, but evidence in younger populations is lacking. In the present cross-sectional study, we examined the associations of eating frequency (EF) with metabolic risk factors in British children aged 4-10 years (n 818) and adolescents aged 11-18 years (n 818). Dietary intake was assessed using a 7 d weighed dietary record. EF was calculated based on all eating occasions, except for those providing < 210 kJ of energy. Metabolic risk factors examined were total, HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations, TAG concentration, BMI z-score, waist:height ratio (WHtR; only adolescents), and systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Adjustment was made for age, sex, social class, physical activity levels, intakes of protein, fat, total sugar and dietary fibre, ratio of reported energy intake to estimated energy requirement (EI:EER) and BMI z-score (except for BMI z-score and WHtR). In children, EF was inversely associated with total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations (n 324, P= 0·01 and 0·04, respectively). Conversely, EF was positively associated with BMI z-score in adolescents (P= 0·004). There were no associations between EF and other metabolic risk factors. In analyses in which only plausible energy reporters (EI:EER: 0·72-1·28) were included, similar results were obtained, except for an inverse association between EF and diastolic blood pressure in children. In conclusion, a higher EF is associated with lower total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in children but with a higher BMI z-score in adolescents.
- Eating frequency