Eating While Distracted May Trigger Weight Gain for Dieters

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Marji_200815_3A new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that eating “on-the-go” could lead to weight gain and even obesity for dieters.

Researchers gathered 60 female students who were categorized as dieters and non-dieters. Each participant was randomly assigned to eat a cereal bar under different conditions: the first group was assigned to watch a five-minute TV clip while they were eating, the second group was required to walk down a hallway while eating, and the last group was required to eat while conversing with a friend.

After eating the cereal bars, participants completed questionnaires about their eating experiences before participating in an unsupervised taste test. The test included separate bowls of chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes and chips. Researchers instructed each participant to eat as much as they wanted and rate the foods according to how much they liked it.

Results indicate that participants who consumed the cereal bar while walking around ate more snacks during the taste test. Researchers also discovered that these participants ate about five times more chocolate than other participants.

Jane Ogden, the study’s lead author, suggests that any form of distraction might affect food intake.

“Fullness is not only the result of brain and chemical reactions, but a perception that is influenced by learning, emotion and distraction. If we eat ‘on the go’ or in front of a computer, we will feel less full as our attention is diverted away from the meal and we don’t learn the association between food and mealtimes,” says Ogden.

Researchers conclude that further research needs to be done to evaluate whether walking can trigger overeating in the long-term.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Ogden, J., et al.,Distraction, restrained eating and disinhibition: An experimental study of food intake and the impact of ‘eating on the go’,” Journal of Health Psychology, doi: 10.1177/1359105315595119, published online August 19, 2015,
McIntosh, J. “Eating on the move may trigger weight gain in dieters,” Medical News Today web site, August 20, 2015;