Frequent snacking out of habit, boredom, stress or frustration rather than out of hunger often leads to weight gain. A new study has now revealed that repeated snacking even in the absence of hunger may actually put you at a risk of unhealthy weight gain.
Study author Stephanie Fay who conducted the study at Queensland University of Technology in Australia said, "Eating too frequently, especially when we are not hungry, is a major potential cause of weight gain. Excessive portion size and energy-dense foods are often blamed for weight gain but the frequency of eating is a significant contributor too."
During 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 study participants, 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.
The researchers found that people who ate the most of the extra snack were more impulsive, and more responsive to food reward. Fay said, "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."
The study appears in Eating Behaviors.