A new study has found that people who sleep less tend to eat more, even if they usually stick to the traditional three (3) meals per day.
• Most people consume food and drinks for 15 hours each day.
• Individuals generally consume most of their daily calories late in the evening.
• Tea and desserts are popular snacks all throughout the day.
US researchers used a smartphone app to reach this conclusion. They asked a group of 150 subjects to use the app to take pictures of all the things they ate and drank. The experiment lasted for three (3) weeks and revealed that when a subject slept less they ate more. But when the same subject slept more, they ate less.
Most of the participating subjects stretched their eating and drinking throughout 15 hours of their day. They took in less than 25 percent (25%) of daily calories before noon, and over 35 percent (35%) of them after 6 p.m.
Satchidananda Panda, study co-author and field expert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, California), gave a statement saying that “Most people think they eat three meals and a snack or two within a 10-12 hour window, but we found the majority spread their caloric intake over a very long time”.
The problem with spreading your caloric intake over a longer time is that you risk consuming larger quantities of food and beverages. The more often you eat, the more likely you are to overeat.
Another issue is that people seemed to prefer eating late in the evening. But Panda explained that doing so “confuses our body’s biological clock and predisposes us to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease”.
But the research team says that there may be hope for people to improve their eating and drinking habits. Several recent studies and surveys have shown that once people are made aware of how much they eat and drink, they frown at their own habits and reduce the amounts that they consume.
However this also meant that Panda and Shubhroz Gill, the study’s other co-author and field expert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, had to get creative in their approach. If people were allowed to store the photos, this would have affected the results of the study.
So what the duo did was develop an app that erased the images as soon as the smartphones saved them. This made sure that the subjects themselves were kept unaware of how much they consumed throughout the day and ensured that the results would reflect their normal behavior.
Once they started analyzing the data, the research duo could clearly see that the more people were awake, the more they ate. However, it’s worth mentioning that the study was not designed to assess whether asking people to reduce the number of hours through which they ate would impact the quantity of food that they consumed.
Another interesting finding was that people favored different food and beverage groups at different hours. Most subjects preferred drinking coffee in the morning and drinking alcoholic beverages late in the evening.
Tea lovers generally consumed the beverage all throughout the day, whereas dessert lovers started sending photos of candy and chocolate from 10 a.m. until the end of the day.
Image Source: pixabay.com