Eating on the go could lead to weight gain, new research from the UK suggests.
Researchers from the University of Surrey say those who do not find the time to stop and have a proper meal are more likely to increase their food intake later in the day, which could lead to weight gain and obesity.
Their findings showed that eating while walking around triggered more overeating compared to eating during other forms of distraction, such as watching TV or having a conversation with a friend.
The small-scale study, which is published in the Journal Of Health Psychology, saw the team examine 60 women who were either dieters or non-dieters and give them all a cereal bar to eat under three different conditions.
The first group was asked to watch a five-minute clip of the sitcom Friends while eating, while the second group was asked to walk around a corridor while consuming the cereal bar.
The third group was simply asked to sit opposite a friend and have a conversation.
After the experiment, participants completed a follow-up questionnaire and a taste test involving four different bowls of snacks, including chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes and crisps.
How much they ate was measured after they left the room.
The results showed that dieters ate more snacks at the taste test if they had eaten the initial cereal bar while walking around, and specifically they ate five times more chocolate.
"Eating on the go may make dieters overeat later on in the day," said lead author Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey.
"When we don't fully concentrate on our meals and the process of taking in food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don't track or recognise the food that has just been consumed."