A definition of “regular meals” driven by dietary quality supports a pragmatic schedule

Barbara Lohse, Kathryn Faulring, Diane C. Mitchell, Leslie Cunningham‐sabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Public health guidelines advise eating regular meals without defining “regular.” This study constructed a meaning for “regular” meals congruent with dietary quality. Parents of 4th grade youth in a school‐based intervention (Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02491294) completed three, ASA24 online 24‐h dietary recalls. Differences in time of intake across days for breakfasts, lunches, dinners were categorized with consistency denoted as always, often/sometimes or rarely/never and assigned values of 3, 2 or 1, respectively. Meal‐specific values were summed to form mealtime regularity scores (mReg) ranging from 3 (low) to 9. Healthy eating index (HEI) scores were compared to mReg controlling for weekday/weekend recall pattern. Linear regression predicted HEI scores from mReg. Parents (n = 142) were non‐Hispanic white (92%), female (88%) and educated (73%). One mReg version, mReg1 was significantly associated with total HEI, total fruit, whole fruit, tended to correlate with total protein, seafood/plant protein subcomponents. mReg1 predicted total HEI (p = 0.001) and was inversely related to BMI (p = 0.04). A score of three (always) was awarded to breakfasts, lunches or dinners with day‐to‐day differences of 0–60 min; also, lunches/dinners with one interval of 60–120 min when two meals were ≤60 min apart. More rigid mReg versions were not associated with dietary quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2667
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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