Eating on the go might be a timesaver in the short term, but in the long run it’ll lead to more hours in the gym to work off extra weight.
According to a new study out of the University of Surrey in England, eating while walking triggered more overeating than eating while watching TV or having a conversation with a friend.
"This may be because walking is a powerful form of distraction, which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger,” says professor Jane Ogden, the study’s lead author. Or, she continues, it may be because we think of walking, even just along a hallway, as a form of exercise that justifies overeating later on as a form of reward.
The British team studied a 60 women, both dieters and non-dieters. They were all given a cereal bar that they had to eat under three different conditions. The first group was asked to watch an episode of the TV show “Friends,” the second group had to walk along a hallway while eating, and the third group just had to sit opposite a friend and have a conversation.
After eating the cereal bar, participants completed a taste test involving four different bowls of snacks: chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes and potato chips. The results showed that the walking dieters ate five times more chocolate at the taste test.
“Even though walking had the most impact, any form of distraction, including eating at our desks can lead to weight gain,” Ogden warns. “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 recognise the food that has just been consumed."