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In the restaurant or in the company of friends, people often overeat
Many people try to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. Does it make a difference if we dine in company? How does it affect when we eat at home or in a restaurant? Researchers have now found that meals in a social setting (such as with friends or in a restaurant) increase the risk of overeating.
Scientists at the Department of Health & Community Systems at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found in an investigation that eating at a friend's or in a restaurant often resulted in us eating too much food. The doctors presented the results of their study at the American Heart Association’s conference.
Experts monitor the eating habits of 150 subjects
If you want to lose some weight, you should pay attention to where you eat. A recent study monitored the eating habits of 150 people. They used an app on their smartphone to analyze the data of their diet over the day, the authors explain. 90 percent of the volunteers were women. All subjects had to report five times a day where they consumed their food and whether they were in the company. They also had to provide information about when they broke their diet or were tempted to do so, the scientists add.
Eating in a restaurant increases the risk of not following a diet
The probability of not following a diet or consuming too much food was 60 percent when eating in a restaurant. When people ate their food alone, that figure was 50 percent, explains Professor Lora Burke of the University of Pittsburgh. When asked in a restaurant whether they wanted more food or a high-calorie meal, the risk of discarding the diet was also 60 percent. At work, this value was only about 40 percent for comparison.
Our food is healthier if we cook at home
But why is this effect? One theory is that you have more control over what you cook yourself at home. In addition, your family knows your diet goals and supports you, the researchers say. A study published in 2014 in the journal Public Health Nutrition had already found that preparing dinner at home is associated with eating healthier food. But there is an important limitation to this result, people are more likely to consume so-called snacks when they are at home alone.
The risk of not following a diet is influenced by the time
The time of day also greatly affects the likelihood of people breaking their diet. The consumption of healthy snacks such as nuts, vegetables and fruits has its peak around noon. Sweet snacks tend to be consumed in the evening shortly after 8 p.m. Such foods include sweets, chocolate and ice cream, the doctors explain.
What diet goals did the subjects have?
In the current study by Burke's team, women weighing less than 200 pounds were given a daily dietary goal of 1,200 calories a day. In men of this weight, the goal was 1,500 calories, the experts say. In women weighing over 200 pounds, the goal was 1,500 calories, in men the goal was not to consume more than 1,800 calories. The researchers added that a maximum of 25 percent of the total calories were fat.
More research is needed
The results of the study can help people successfully complete a diet or maintain a healthy body weight. Further research to understand the diet effect and avoid weight gain (yo-yo effect) is crucial for improving public health, explains author Burke. (as)