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Snacking, Meal Skipping
Can Boost Calorie
Intake
Excerpt By Sara Kuzmarov

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Skipping meals may seem like a sure way to cut calories and lose weight, but study findings indicate that it may lead to increased snacking of sugary foods that can pack on the pounds in the long run.

The study of more than 1,500 eighth-grade students found that 20% said they ate just two meals a day, mostly lunch and dinner. These meal skippers generally consumed more snacks than their peers did, the investigators found. And these snacks were generally rich in simple sugars and salt, and low in fiber.

Indeed, overweight students were more likely to skip breakfast, suggesting that ``eating breakfast is not necessarily associated with increased weight,'' Dr. Johanna Dwyer of Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and colleagues write.

But nearly 80% of students ate four or more times per day and the more often students ate, the more calories they consumed, according to the report in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The findings demonstrate the relationship between adolescents' eating patterns and nutrient intake and suggest that efforts to promote healthy eating should target snacking.

``If you want to change what you eat, look at both how often you eat and the combination of meals and snacks eaten,'' Dwyer said in an interview with Reuters Health.

She said that healthy eating is learned at home and at school. More than three quarters of students in the study ate their lunch at school and 80% ate dinner at home. Therefore, better food choices by parents and in school cafeterias can go a long way, Dwyer said.

``At dinnertime, parents have to be involved in food choices,'' Agnes Kolor, a registered dietitian, told Reuters Health. She said adolescents should focus on eating fewer treats, smaller portions and at least three vegetables and two fruits a day.

The study results are based on student reports of food intake over a 1-day period. Students from 96 public schools in San Diego, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Austin, Texas participated in the study.

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2001;101:798-


Reference Source 89

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