Eating While Walking Around Could Lead to Weight Gain
In a study published August 20th 2015 in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers from the University of Surrey in the UK have found dieters who eat “on the go” may increase their food intake later in the day, which could lead to weight gain and obesity. The findings from the study also showed that eating while walking around triggered more overeating compared to eating during other forms of distraction such as watching TV or having a conversation with a friend.
A release from the university explains that the team examined 60 females who were either dieters or non-dieters and gave them all a cereal bar to eat under three different conditions. The first group was asked to watch a five-minute clip of the sitcom “Friends” while eating. The second group was asked to walk around the corridor while consuming the cereal bar, and the third group was simply asked to sit opposite a friend and have a conversation. After the experiment, participants completed a follow-up questionnaire and a taste test involving four different bowls of snacks, including chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes, and crisps. How much they ate was measured after they left the room.
The results showed that dieters ate more snacks at the taste test if they had eaten the initial cereal bar while walking around. Specifically, they ate five times more chocolate.
The release quotes lead author Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey as saying, “Eating on the go may make dieters overeat later on in the day. This may be because walking is a powerful form of distraction which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger. Or it may be because walking, even just around a corridor, can be regarded as a form of exercise which justifies overeating later on as a form of reward.
“Even though walking had the most impact, any form of distraction, including eating at our desks can lead to weight gain. When we don’t fully concentrate on our meals and the process of taking in food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don’t track or recognize the food that has just been consumed.”