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'On-The-Go' Eating Increases Obesity Risk, Study Shows

First Posted: Aug 21, 2015 06:03 PM EDT
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Walking and eating doesn't necessarily sound like a bad thing, right? Maybe not the most comfortable meal but nothing negative.

Yet new findings published in the Journal of Health Psychology reveal that it could actually increase obesity risk because it makes people more hungry.

"Eating on-the-go may make dieters overeat later on in the day," said Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey. "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."

In this recent study, researchers examined 60 female participants who were asked to eat cereal bars under varying conditions.

Study results revealed that dieters ate significantly more snacks during a subsequent taste test if they had walked during the first half of the experiment. Furthermore, an extended analysis revealed that participants assigned to walk ate five times more than those under different conditions.

"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," she added. "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."

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