British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Eating behaviours and obesity in the adult population of Spain

A. C. Marín-Guerreroa1 c1, J. L. Gutiérrez-Fisaca2a3, P. Guallar-Castillóna2a3, J. R. Banegasa2a3 and F. Rodríguez-Artalejoa2a3

a1 Unidad de Medicina Preventiva, Hospital Nuestra Señora del Prado, Ctra. De Madrid, km, 114, 45600, Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, Spain

a2 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Avenida Arzobispo Morcillo s/n, 28029, Madrid, Spain

a3 CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona, Doctor Aiguader 88, 1a Planta, 08003 Barcelona, Spain


To examine the association between several eating behaviours and obesity, data were taken from a cross-sectional study conducted with 34 974 individuals aged 25–64 years, representative of the non-institutionalised Spanish population. Obesity was defined as BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2. Study associations were summarised with OR obtained from logistic regression, with adjustment for socio-demographic and lifestyle factors. The results showed that those skipping breakfast were more likely to be obese, both in men (OR 1·58; 95 % CI 1·29, 1·93) and women (OR 1·53; 95 % CI 1·15, 2·03). Moreover, obesity was more prevalent in those having only two meals per day than in those having three or four meals in men (OR 1·63; 95 % CI 1·37, 1·95) and women (OR 1·30; 95 % CI 1·05, 1·62). Also, snacking was associated with obesity in women (OR 1·51; 95 % CI 1·17, 1·95). However, no association was observed between obesity and having one or more of the main meals away from home, in either sex. In conclusion, skipping breakfast and eating frequency were associated with obesity. The lack of association between eating away from home and obesity is in contrast to most previous research conducted in Anglo-Saxon countries. Differences in the type of establishment frequented when eating out or in the characteristics of restaurant customers in a Mediterranean population might explain these conflicting results.

(Received November 08 2007)

(Revised February 06 2008)

(Accepted February 18 2008)

(Online publication April 01 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr A. C. Marín-Guerrero, fax +34 925 815 444, email