Three Eating Behaviors That May Cause Weight Gain
You’ve probably heard the key to weight management includes making good diet choices, like consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, and making good lifestyle choices, like staying active and getting enough sleep. Now, a study published in the journal Obesity further defines the recipe for weight management, finding that weight gain may also be associated with the way you eat. For the study, researchers recruited 1,638 people, ages 18 to 60, between 2008 and 2010. Participants were surveyed to assess how often they participated in the following “unhealthy eating behaviors”:
- Not planning how much food to eat
- Consuming pre-cooked or canned foods
- Buying snacks
- Eating at fast-food chains
- Not choosing low-calorie foods
- Not removing visible fat from meat or skin from chicken
- Eating while watching TV or sitting on a sofa
Researchers followed up on the participants’ weight changes through 2012. After controlling for physical activity, alcohol consumption, and certain chronic diseases, they found that:
- People who reported engaging in five or more unhealthy eating behaviors were 61% more likely to gain about seven pounds or more during the follow-up period compared with those who participated in fewer of these behaviors.
- Only three unhealthy behaviors were independently linked to weight gain: not planning how much food to eat, eating at fast-food restaurants more than once a week, and eating while watching TV. Compared with those who did not participate in any of these behaviors, people who engaged in any one of them had a 54% higher risk of gaining about seven pounds or more, and those who engaged in more behaviors had a 70% or higher risk of gaining about seven pounds or more during the follow-up period.
- Eating pre-cooked or canned foods and buying snacks from vending machines were not associated with weight gain.
This study highlights how habits like eating in front of the TV and not planning meal portions may lead to weight gain. While more clinical research is needed to validate some of this study’s conclusions, previous research confirms that sedentary behavior and large portion sizes are two factors associated with weight gain. If you’re trying to lose weight, remember that there is no substitute for choosing healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise, and developing good habits around eating may give you just the extra support you need.
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