According to one PhD candidate, those among us who subscribe to the grazing method of eating are in for a rather generous shock indeed.
Have we been snacking all wrong? New research suggests that women who “graze” throughout the day may be more likely to gain weight than those who stick to regular meal times.
PhD candidate Rebecca Leech’s research “Understanding Adults’ Eating Patterns” has revealed misconceptions regarding the health benefits of “grazing” and snacking, by identifying how meal timing can play an important role in body weight and cardiovascular health.
The Deakin researcher, who will today be awarded the Alfred Deakin Medal for Doctoral Thesis said, “My research found evidence of a ‘grazing’ style eating pattern, characterised by higher meal frequency and energy intake sourced from eating later in the day. This pattern was associated with higher intakes of unhealthy food in both men and women, and women who were overweight or obese were shown to be more likely to have a ‘grazing’ pattern.”
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She adds, “The advice to have frequent small meals throughout the day to control hunger while increasing metabolism has been repeated so often that many have come to believe it, and with the abundance of often contradictory nutrition information out there it’s no wonder that people are confused. It’s actually meal frequency – not snack frequency – that can be associated with better adherence to national recommendations for healthy eating in both men and women.”
Ballarat-based mother-of-three, Dr Leech said the results of her research suggest there should be an increased emphasis on the importance of regular meals to promote healthy eating, rather than snacking; and that improving the quality of snacks could be an important strategy for preventing weight gain.