Repeated snacking even in the absence of hunger may put you at risk of unhealthy weight gain, says a new study.
"Eating too frequently, especially when we are not hungry, is a major potential cause of weight gain," said study author Stephanie Fay who conducted the study at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
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"Excessive portion size and energy-dense foods are often blamed for weight gain but the frequency of eating is a significant contributor too," said Fay, now based in London with the World Cancer Research Fund.
For the study, the researchers offered volunteers a chocolate snack right after they had as much as they wanted of a similar snack food.
Three-quarters of the people involved, who were unexpectedly offered a second chocolate snack immediately after being given as much they wanted of another chocolate snack food, ate that one too.
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The researchers found that those who ate the most of the extra snack were more impulsive, and more responsive to food reward.
"They were also heavier (with a higher body mass index), which suggests that repeated snacking in the absence of hunger is a risk factor for weight gain," Fay said.
The study was published in the international journal Eating Behaviours.