Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Kathleen Melanson

Abstract

Food insecure women are at greater risk of obesity than food secure women. Obesity is also associated with rapid eating rate (ER) and failure to reduce ER during meals. Measurement of ER has previously only been possible under laboratory conditions, limiting research. The purpose of this research is to measure ER in food insecure women in community settings utilizing a novel, mobile eating rate measurement system using laptop computers. Women (n=20), ages 18-65 (mean±SD age= 46.5±13.7 years) with a body mass index (BMI) over 18.5 kg/m2 (mean±SD BMI= 35.7±6.6 kg/m2) were recruited from low-income sites: a food pantry and free clinic in Rhode Island. Food security status was established using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Adult Food Security Survey Module: participants were either in the secure (n=0), marginal (n=1), low (n=4), or very low (n=15) range. Women were discreetly video recorded with a laptop while eating a test meal (400g, 842 kcal vegetable frittata), which was covertly weighed pre and post consumption. Total ER (g/min; bites/min) was calculated. Video recordings showing bites per minute were divided into four time quartiles (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4) and bites/quartile was calculated. Due to technical difficulties, only 13 video recordings were included in data analysis: food secure (n=1) (mean±SD ER 53.9 g/min) and food insecure (n=12) (mean±SD ER 55.1±19.1 g/min). Quartile results found that Q1 eating rate was slower than Q2 in over half of participants (n=7). Additionally Q4 eating rate was faster than Q2 and Q3 (n=6), suggesting an accelerated pattern. In conclusion, the novel methodology proved difficult and complex, limiting the study. Findings need to be confirmed with a larger sample.

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