22 EVA ROOS AND RITVA PRÄTTÄLÄ sweet and salty snacks, and coffee and tea lower among those who followed the conventional meal pattern. Generally, the diet of the conventional meal pattern eaters seemed to be more traditional than that of the others, but did not differ in nutrient content from the more modern food pattern. The lower coffee and tea consumption among followers of the conventional meal pattern was expected; earlier studies have shown that warm and prepared meals have been replaced by coffee and tea (Mintz, 1985; Prättälä & Helminen, 1990). Today, the traditional assumption of a three meal pattern is true for less than half the population. We need new meal models in dietary guidelines which correspond better to daily meal patterns. The conventional three-meal pattern promoted in dietary recommendations seems not to be sufficiently relevant for encouraging a more nutritious diet. A healthy diet is possible both for those who follow the conventional meal pattern and for those who eat fewer meals per day. Both dietary guidelines and educators should place more emphasis on eating occasions. For example, it is more relevant to focus on meals when trying to decrease fat intake, and on snacks when sugar is the target. This study was not able to examine those with a very irregular meal pattern. The irregular meal pattern group was too small for further analysis in the present study. An irregular meal pattern could probably affect the daily nutrient intake. Other ‘‘bad’’ lifestyle habits such as smoking and low physical activity may also be more common among those who eat irregularly. Unfortunately, this group of people is difficult to reach by mailed questionnaires and more likely to be found among study non-attenders. Other approaches and methods should be used to identify the irregular meal pattern group and to analyse associations between life style, irregular eating and nutrient intakes. REFERENCES Anderson, A. S., Macintyre, S. & West, P. (1993). Adolescent meal patters: grazing habits in the west of Scotland. Health Bulletin, 51, 158–165. Basdevant, A., Craplet, C. & Guy-Grand, B. (1993). Snacking patterns in obese French women. Appetite, 21, 17–23. Belloc, N. B. & Breslow, L. (1972). Relationship of physical health status and health practices. Preventive Medicine, 1, 409–421. Birkbeck, J. A. (1981). Obesity, socioeconomic variables and eating habits in New Zealand. Journal of Biosocial Science, 13, 299–307. Bruce, Å. (1987). Måltidsordning (Meal pattern). Vårföda, 6, 244–246. Bruce, Å. (1991). Inledning (Introduction). In Måltiden och måltidsordningen (Meal and meal pattern). p. 5–7. Forskningsrådsnämnden. Report 91:3. Cross, A. T., Babicz, D. & Cushman, L. F. (1994). Snacking patterns among 1,800 adults and children. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 94, 1398–1403. Dugdale, A. E., Townsend, B. & Rigsby, B. (1988). The eating and snacking patterns of young people in Brisbane, Australia. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 1, 95–104. Fabry, P. & Tepperman, J. (1970). Meal frequency—a possible factor in human pathology. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 23, 1059–1068. Franceschi, S., La Vecchia, C., Bidoli, E., Negri, E. & Talamini R. (1992). Meal frequency and risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer Research, 52, 3589–3592. Gillespie, A. (1983). Assessing snacking behavior of children. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 13, 167–172. Haraldsdottir, J., Holm, L., Jensen, J. H. & Møller, A. (1989). Danskernes kostvaner 2. Hvem spiser hvad? (Danish food habits 2, who is eating what?) Denmark: LST, 154.
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