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How mental impact on hunger is fuelling obesity epidemic

How mental impact on hunger is fuelling obesity epidemic
How you look at food predicts if you consume it in a healthy way. (Photo: Pexels)

A new study has found snacking on the go may not fill you up like a sit down meal at the table.

Seeing food as a ‘snack’ which may contain the same calories as a ‘meal’ will have people eating 50% more later, the Daily Mail reported.

For the study, 80 participants were given a choice of pasta with either cheese and tomato or tuna and sweetcorn. Some ate it as a ‘snack’ in a plastic pot with a plastic spoon and consumed it standing up. Others ate it as a ‘meal’ which was served on a ceramic plate with metal cutlery and sat down at a table.

After they consumed the food, participants were taken to a second room for a ‘taste test’ of unhealthy foods like chocolate biscuits. Researchers found those who ate a ‘snack’ ate far more during the ‘taste test’ that those who had a ‘meal’ despite both groups consuming the same amount of calories.

People tend to mentally ‘tick off’ their three meals a day, experts at the University of Surrey believe. So when they sit down for a meal, they do not feel the need to eat for a few hours. However, if they are eating a snack standing up, they still feel the need to eat again because they do not count it as a meal.

Lead author of the study Professor Jane Ogden, a health psychologist at Surrey told the Daily Mail: “It is to do with registering that you have eaten. Knowing that you have eaten is a psychological process – you tick off the fact you have had a meal.”

Marketing food as ‘snacks’ is fuelling the obesity crisis, Professor Ogden feels. “With our lives getting busier increasing numbers of people are eating on the go and consuming foods that are labelled as ‘snacks’ to sustain them,” she added.

Professor Ogden encourages people to be aware of what you are eating in order to make healthy food choices and eating habits. The findings are originally published in the journal Appetite.

World Health Organisation (WHO) recently reported the number of obese children and adolescents worldwide has jumped tenfold in the past 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down. The rise in obesity is also contributing to various serious health issues across the globe.