British Journal of Nutrition

Short Communication

Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet

Jameason D. Camerona1, Marie-Josée Cyra1 and Éric Douceta1 c1

a1 Behavioural and Metabolic Research Unit, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5


There have been reports of an inverse relationship between meal frequency (MF) and adiposity. It has been postulated that this may be explained by favourable effects of increased MF on appetite control and possibly on gut peptides as well. The main goal of the present study was to investigate whether using a high MF could lead to a greater weight loss than that obtained with a low MF under conditions of similar energy restriction. Subjects were randomised into two treatment arms (high MF = 3 meals+3 snacks/d or low MF = 3 meals/d) and subjected to the same dietary energy restriction of − 2931 kJ/d for 8 weeks. Sixteen obese adults (n 8 women and 8 men; age 34·6 (sd 9·5); BMI 37·1 (sd 4·5) kg/m2) completed the study. Overall, there was a 4·7 % decrease in body weight (P < 0·01); similarly, significant decreases were noted in fat mass ( − 3·1 (sd 2·9) kg; P < 0·01), lean body mass ( − 2·0 (sd 3·1) kg; P < 0·05) and BMI ( − 1·7 (sd 0·8) kg/m2; P < 0·01). However, there were NS differences between the low- and high-MF groups for adiposity indices, appetite measurements or gut peptides (peptide YY and ghrelin) either before or after the intervention. We conclude that increasing MF does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.

(Received June 01 2009)

(Revised October 14 2009)

(Accepted October 21 2009)

(Online publication November 30 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Éric Doucet, fax +1 613 562 5291, email


Abbreviations: MF, meal frequency