WebMD Health News Journalist, Denise Mann reports new findings from a recent published study in the December issue of the Journal of American Dietetic Association (now called Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). The study titled, "Associations between Snacking and Weight Loss and Nutrient Intake among Postmenopausal Overweight to Obese Women in a Dietary Weight Loss Intervention", addresses the association of snacking during mid-morning with weight loss.
The 12-month randomized controlled trial included 123 overweight to obese women 50- to 70- years old. The participants were allotted 1,200 to 2,000 calories daily with less than 30% of those calories from fat or a similar diet with a combination of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. The study included lifestyle-based intervention such as nutritional counseling; however, the sessions did not address snacking which the study defined as food or beverage consumed between meals. The results of the study showed that by the end of the study, mid-morning snackers lost 7% of their body weight in contrast, dieters who ate a healthy snack but did not snack lost more than 11% of their body weight.
Mann states that the results imply that by "grabbing a snack between breakfast and lunch, [weight loss efforts may be sabotaged]". One of the study's researchers, Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Public Health Sciences Division in Seattle emphasized that "since women on a weight loss program only have limited number of calories to spend each day, it is important…to incorporate nutrient-dense foods that are no more than 200 calories per serving."
Lead researcher Angela Kong, PhD, RD and her team concluded from the study that "snacking can be used to incorporate healthy foods; however, snacking patterns might also reflect unhealthy eating habits." Unhealthy eating habits were described as mindless eating and overeating which could impede weight loss programs.