Overweight adults eat less often than people in the normal body weight range, but still take in more calories and are less active over the course of the day, according to a US study.
By contrast, normal weight adults, including those who had lost a lot of weight and kept it off, ate more often.
“Most of the research has shown that people who eat more frequently have a lower weight. But no one knows why,” said lead researcher Jessica Bachman, an assistant professor in the department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
More than 60 percent of US residents are obese or overweight, but the relationship between the number of meals people eat each day and the ability to maintain weight loss has remained unclear, she said.
Bachman and her team followed about 250 people for a year, analyzing data collected in two large studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. One looked at the eating habits of people with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 to 47. On average, the normal weight subjects ate three meals and a little over two snacks each day, whereas the overweight group averaged three meals and just over one snack a day.