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Table 1 Observational Studies Supporting the Effectiveness of Increased Meal Frequency on Weight loss/Fat loss

From: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: meal frequency

Study (year) Population Measurements Findings
Fabry et al.[13] (1964) 379 older males (60-64 yrs) Frequency of food intake survey, calculation to determine overweight classification, triceps and subscapular skinfolds, and blood variables Ingesting > 5meals/d, as compared to < 3 meals/d, significantly improves overweight classification and subcutaneous fat.
Hedja & Fabry [14] (1964) 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 skinfold averages than those that ate > 5 meals/day.
Metzner et al. [15] (1977) 948 males and 1,080 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] (1998) 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] (2002) 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 yrs) 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.