US researchers have used a smartphone app to track the eating habits of Americans, and they concluded that if people are awake, chances are they’re eating.
Frequent snacking over the course of 15 hours or more proved to be the most popular eating pattern among participating subjects. And to make matters worse, the biggest chunk of calories was not consumed until noon, but after 6 p.m.
It’s also worth mentioning that most people didn’t even notice their own behavior. Satchidananda Panda, associate professor from the Regulatory Biology Laboratory over at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (California) and co-author on the study, offered a statement saying that “Most participants thought they don’t eat or drink that regularly outside their breakfast-lunch-dinner routine”.
Most subjects also believed that they were limiting their eating and drinking to a 10, 11, or 12 hour window. But once the researchers analyzed the data collected by the app, they saw that the individuals taking part in the study spent somewhere around 15 hours per day taking bites of various foods.
The study involved 150 American adults (ages 21 to 55), both men and women. They were asked to install a newly developed app on their phones and take photos of every food, drink and nutritional supplement that they consumed.
The app’s job was to calculate the caloric intake of these products and register the exact time and place of their consumption. The project lasted for 21 days.
At the end of the three (3) weeks, the researchers concluded that their subjects had food intake patterns that were both continuous and erratic. Simply put, if Americans are awake, chances are they’re munching down on something. More than half the subjects in the study fasted only while they were asleep.
Another unhealthy habit is that Americans don’t even consume 25 percent (25%) of daily calories before noon. Instead, they consume over a third of daily calories after 6 p.m.
The sane group of researchers then conducted a second investigation, asking eight (8) obese Americans, both men and women, to reduce their 15 hour eating window to just 10 hours.
This test lasted for 16 weeks, at the end of which the researchers noticed that their subjects consumed 20 percent (20%) fewer calories per day and lost about seven (7) pounds. They also said that they slept better and had higher energy levels during these four (4) months.
The study was published earlier this week, on September 24, 2015, in the journal Cell Metabolism.
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