In today's fast-paced world where sitting for a meal for 10 minutes has become next to impossible, people tend to resort to lifestyle practices that can make them perform tasks simultaneously. One example of this is grabbing "on the go" food items that can be eaten while walking to the office. However, a new study found that eating while in the midst of doing other activities may be one of the reasons why people can gain more weight which can subsequently lead to obesity.

To investigate on the effects of distraction on consequent eating, the researchers from the University of Surrey conducted an experiment wherein they divided their 60 female subjects into three groups while eating a cereal bar. The first group was subjected to watch the sitcom "Friends" for five minutes. The second group was instructed to roam around the corridor and the third group was asked to engage in a conversation with a friend. After the said experiment, the researchers asked the participants to answer a questionnaire and perform a taste test of four different snacks including carrot sticks, chocolate, crisps and grapes. The amount of food that they consumed was measured after they left the room.

The researchers then found that the first and third group, who were subjected to circumstances with distractions, ate less during the experiment per se. Those who were asked to eat while walking, on the other hand, were found to eat more overall. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

"Eating on the go may make dieters overeat later on in the day," said Professor Jane Ogden, lead author from the University of Surrey. The reason for such is that walking may be a strong form of distraction, which may hinder the individuals to think about the effects of eating on hunger. It is also possible that the participants may associate walking with exercise thus, considering overeating as a justification or a reward, she adds.

"It takes about 20 minutes for our brain to catch up to our stomach," Lori Rosenthal, a registered dietician from the Montefiore Medical Center told CBS News. Giving enough attention to what we eat and actually slowing down may enable individuals to realize if they are eating too much already; however, in times of distraction, people tend to not recognize this possibility. She recommends giving full attention on food while eating, eliminate distractions such as television and personal gadgets and increase the number of chews per bite of food.

Photo: Bill Selak | Flickr

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