Secondary Eating and Obesity in the United States Open Access

Monson, Sarah (2015)

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Introduction: Obesity has become one of the United States' most pressing public health issues. Almost 35% of Americans are obese according to most recent prevalence data. Research on eating behaviors has shown that eating while distracted, or secondary eating, may cause people to consume more than they realize, with changes in awareness leading to lowered ability to self-regulate food consumption. This study assesses the relationship between BMI, obesity and reported secondary eating time and frequency during the day in the US adult population.

Methods: Data for this analysis on 11,369 adult respondents were taken from the 2008 American Time Use Survey, a cross-sectional survey conducted to obtain nationally representative estimates of Americans' time use. In 2008, the Eating and Health Module was included to obtain information directly related to eating behaviors. Linear and logistic regression models were run to observe the associations between BMI, obesity, and secondary eating time and frequency.

Results: Fifty-three percent of the population reported secondary eating during the day. Non-obese individuals reported 31.8 minutes of secondary eating on average, while obese individuals reported an average of 22.8 minutes. Those who were obese reported a mean of 0.78 secondary eating occasions per day compared to a mean of 0.93 secondary eating occasions among non-obese individuals. In logistic regression models adjusted for demographic characteristics education and selected time use variables like exercise time, those who reported more than 30 minutes of secondary eating had lower odds of obesity (OR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.66-0.99) compared to those who did not report secondary eating at all. In unadjusted logistic regression models, those who reported one, or three or more, occasions of secondary eating had lower odds of obesity compared to those who did not report secondary eating at all.

Discussion: This is the first study to observe the associations between both secondary eating time and frequency and body composition in US adults. Secondary eating was associated with lower BMI and a lower likelihood of being obese. Future research on secondary eating should focus on describing energy intake during secondary eating events to further explore this behavior.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction/Statement of Need. 1

II. Literature Review. 4

BMI Trends. 4

Obesity Measurement. 4

Energy Imbalance. 5

Eating Patterns. 7

Eating Rate. 9

Distracted Eating. 10

Commuting. 12

Sleep. 13

Conceptual Framework. 14

III. Methods. 16

Study Design. 16

Study Population. 16

Data Collection. 17

Measures. 18

Analysis. 24

Results. 30

IV. Discussion. 36

Strengths. 38

Weaknesses. 39

Future Directions. 40

V. References. 43

VI. Tables and Figures. 49

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