More evidence against snacking

Posted on July 11, 2011

(Last Updated On: September 1, 2017)

Last updated 9/1/17

A recent study on why Americans have gained weight has been circulating the web. If you’ve read my post on portion control, you can already guess what they found…

The researchers acknowledged people are obviously eating more calories per day but they wanted to examine the way in which we are eating more. That is, is it the specific food we eat aka the energy density of our food, are our portion sizes bigger, or is it how often we eat?

Here’s what they found (click for a clearer image):

Should I snack?


The highlighted portion of the chart is what we are most concerned with, which is saying the energy density of the food we eat has gone down. Our portion sizes have gone up, but only by about 12%, and the frequency of how often we eat has gone up by nearly 30%.

In english:

1) The types of food we eat now in relation to 30 years ago are not a contributor to our gaining weight. In the sense that the foods we eat now do not contain a ton more calories than they did 30 years ago.

2) Portion sizes of course matter, but when trying to lose weight your time is better spent elsewhere. Portion sizes are not the biggest cause of our gaining weight.

3) Eating more often is the biggest contributor to our gaining weight.

Summing up, don’t worry about snacking and if you do snack, there is a good chance you should stop.

Of course, this is nothing new. Never mind the fact I wrote about this a couple of months ago, but I was way behind as the study I originally cited is from 2003. Interestingly enough, I didn’t see any reference to the paper I cited in this most recent study. I guess I don’t feel so bad anymore for being so late to finding it the first time.

Again though, why do we snack more often? And how do we mitigate that? If I ever get off my lazy ass I’ll write something on that. What I’ll say is this, how we eat our food is important…how we prepare the food we eat, is also important.

The full study can be found Energy Density, Portion Size, and Eating Occasions: Contributions to Increased Energy Intake in the United States, 1977–2006,  and another write-up of the study can be found here.

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Posted in: Losing Weight