Researchers at the University of Surrey claim that dieters on an ‘eating on the go’ regime actually tend to increase their food intake in later hours, leading to possible weight gain and obesity. The study also reported that eating while walking led to more overeating as compared to eating with distractions, such as television or talking with a friend.

Setting Up The Study

The research team observed 60 females, including both dieters and non-dieters, and provided them with a cereal bar to consume during three different scenarios. One group was asked to eat the bar while watching a five-minute clip of the television sitcom ‘Friends’. The second group was asked to consume the bar as they walked around a corridor. The third group was to eat the cereal bar while simply talking to a friend.

After this was over, the participants were given a follow-up questionnaire along with a taste test involving four different snacks – chocolate, grapes, carrot sticks and crisps. The amount they ate was measured after they left.

Establishing The Facts

According to the results published in the Journal of Health Psychology, dieters consumed more snacks during the taste test if they had eaten the initially provided cereal bar while walking around. More specifically, they consumed five times more chocolate as compared to the other groups.

Lead author Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey explained that these results indicate walking to be a strong distraction that disrupts the ability to process the effect of eating on hunger. Another reason could be that walking, even for a short distance, can be taken as a form of exercise which explains overeating later in the day.

“While walking had the most impact, any form of distraction, such as eating at our desks, can also lead to weight gain. When we don’t fully concentrate on our meals and the process of eating food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don’t track or recognize the food that has just been consumed”, Ogden concluded.