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Overweight People Snack Less, But Consume More Calories: Study

The Huffington Post     Posted: 11/24/2011 10:51 pm

People who are overweight tend to eat fewer times a day than people who are normal weight, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Reuters reported that that's because even though overweight people eat less often, they are also consuming more calories each time they eat and aren't exercising to burn those off.

In the study, researchers from Marywood University looked at health data of overweight and normal weight adults taken from studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Reuters reported. The researchers found that, generally, the overweight people ate three meals and just over a snack a day, while normal-weight people ate three meals and just over two snacks a day, according to Reuters.

CBS News points out that people who had lost weight and kept it off snacked a few times a day and ate about 1,800 calories a day, while people who are of normal weight ate about 1,900 calories a day. However, people who were overweight in the study consumed more than 2,000 calories a day.

Participants who lost weight ate multiple snacks and consumed about 1,800 calories a day, and those who maintained a normal weight consumed about 1,900 calories.

The study comes on the heels of another study, also published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, that suggests that people with healthier diets also eat more snacks throughout the day.

In that study, researchers looked at health data of 11,209 adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, to find that people who snacked four times a day or more had higher "healthy diet" scores than people who said they never snacked, MyHealthNewsDaily reported.

However, don't let the word "snack" deceive you -- of course, an unhealthy snack isn't good for your health. A study published last year in the journal Health Affairs shows that today, snacks are adding an extra 168 calories onto kids' diets compared with kids in 1977, USA Today reported.

That study found that many of the snack calories are coming from things like salty foods, candy, sugar-sweetened drinks and cereals, according to USA Today.

And when you snack, be sure to eat mindfully. Here are some tips for avoiding mindless eating and excess calories.

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  • Use A Bigger Fork

    A study published in the <em>Journal of Consumer Research</em> shows that restaurant-goers who <a href="" target="_hplink">eat with really big forks</a> (20 percent bigger than a normal fork you'd find at a restaurant) eat less food and leave more on their plates than people who eat with really small forks. A possible explanation for this finding is that when people use small forks to eat, they feel like they are not making any big <a href="" target="_hplink">progress in eating their meal</a> and quelling their hunger pangs, <em>TIME</em> reported. In addition, the restaurant-goers who ate with the smaller forks and were given bigger portions of food at much more food than if they just had the smaller forks or if they just had the bigger portions.

  • Eat From A Smaller Bowl

    Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology shows that people eat 31 percent more ice cream when they eat out of a 34-ounce bowl, rather than 17-ounce one, ScienceDaily reported. Researchers explained that's because people eat about 92 percent of what they serve themselves -- so if you <a href="" target="_hplink">serve yourself more, you'll eat more</a>.

  • Get Some Sleep

    Columbia University researchers found that <a href="" target="_hplink">sleep deprivation can also lead to more calories consumed</a>. They found that women who only got 4 hours sleep the night before ate 329 more calories in a nine-hour period compared with if they weren't sleep deprived, while men ate 263 more calories when <a href="" target="_hplink">sleep-deprived</a>. "It has an impact on cognitive restraint," study researcher Marie-Pierre St. Onge told ThirdAge. "High-fat food is tempting, and maybe on <a href="" target="_hplink">short sleep you can't restrain yourself</a> as well, while on full sleep you can resist more easily."

  • Mind Your Environment

    <a href="" target="_hplink">WHERE you eat your food</a> could also factor in to how much you eat and whether you're eating food even though you're not hungry, according to research from the University of Southern California. Researchers had movie-goers say whether they were regular popcorn-eaters or not, and then they had them eat either stale popcorn or freshly popped popcorn. The regular popcorn-eaters ate just as much stale popcorn as fresh popcorn, while people who didn't consider themselves regular popcorn-eaters ate significantly less stale popcorn than fresh since it didn't taste as good. "The results show just how <a href="" target="_hplink">powerful our environment can be</a> in triggering unhealthy behavior," study researcher David Neal said in a statement. "Sometimes willpower and good intentions are not enough, and we need to trick our brains by controlling the environment instead."

  • Hide The Junk Food

    Research from Cornell University shows that we are three times more likely to <a href="" target="_hplink">eat the first thing that we see</a>, compared with the fifth thing we see. In that study, researchers took photographs of 100 kitchen cupboards and asked the owners to keep records of what they ate. Researchers also tried moving the food around in the cupboards to see if that impacted their food choices -- and found that it did. The research shows that "we end up being masters of our own demise, to some extent," study researcher Professor Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," told HuffPost.

  • Eat Using Your Non-Dominant Hand

    Research published in the <em>Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin</em> shows that <a href="" target="_hplink">eating with your non-dominant hand</a> can help you to decrease the amount of food you consume, CNN reported. The finding was part of the same movie-theater/popcorn study, where it was discovered that environment plays a part in mindless eating. Like in that experiment, researchers gave study participants either fresh or stale popcorn. They found that people who used their non-dominant hands and ate the stale popcorn ate 30 percent less than if they used their dominant hands, CNN reported.

  • How to Avoid Mindless Eating

    Food Think with Wansink: Economy-size snacks can cause you to eat more