Associations of Daily Eating Episodes, and Eating Away-from-home with Blood Level of Total Cholesterol

Yunsheng Ma, , MD, PhD, Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, ScD, Edward J. Stanek, PhD, Nancy L. Cohen, PhD, RD, Ira S. Ockene, MD


The objective of this investigation is to describe the associations of number of eating episodes and proportion of meals eaten away from home with total serum cholesterol. Data from 499 participants, recruited from a health maintenance organization in central Massachusetts, aged 20-70, were used for this analysis. Dietary information and total blood cholesterol were obtained at five sampling points (baseline and four consecutive quarters) during the one-year follow-up. A cross-sectional study was conducted. The results from the study do not support the hypothesis that the number of eating episodes per day is associated with total blood cholesterol. However, we noted that the mean concentration of total cholesterol decreased with increasing number of eating episodes among women, although the adjusted mean among three categories of number of eating episodes per day was not statistically significant. On the other hand, the results of our study suggest that increased frequency of meals (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) eaten away from home is positively associated with mean total blood cholesterol concentration. Furthermore, meals eaten away from home, especially breakfast and dinner, were significantly higher in total calories, and percent calories from total and saturated fat, but lower in percent calories from protein and carbohydrate, and grams of fiber, than corresponding meals eaten at home. We conclude that eating out may have adverse influences on blood lipids. Further research is needed to better understand the impact of eating away from home on blood lipids.


eating patterns, epidemiology, diet, cholesterol

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