Snacking while walking could increase weight gain

Eating while walking could lead to people snacking more later in the day, according to a new study. 

The University of Surrey found any form of distraction when eating means people are more likely to overeat later. 

This can lead to additional weight gain and, eventually, obesity.

walking weight

Walking and eating

The study reveals walking and snacking triggers more overeating when compared to eating while you watch TV, talk with someone or are focussed on your meal.

A team of researchers looked at 60 women who were either dieters or non-dieters.


They were all given a cereal bar under 3 different conditions:


  • Group 1 watched a 5 minute TV clip
  • Group 2 walked around
  • Group 3 sat opposite a friend and had a chat


Afterwards, the groups were asked to fill out a questionnaire and take part in a ‘taste test’ involving bowls of chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes and crisps.  

The research team measured how much each group ate from the bowls.

The study found those who were dieting ate more snacks if they had been walking around. In fact, they ate 5 times more chocolate than the other groups.


Tracking our eating

Lead author, Professor Jane Ogden, says walking could be disrupting our ability to recognise how much of an impact eating actually has on our hunger. 

An alternative theory is that as walking is seen as a form of exercise and the people in the study were simply rewarding themselves. 

Professor Ogden says any form of distraction while eating can lead to weight gain. 

If we don’t pay attention to what we are eating, she says, people can become ‘mindless eaters’. This means they don’t track the amount of food consumed.

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