Snacking May Not Lead to Weight Gain

Jun 30, 2011, 09:43 by R.E. Christian

Americans eat an average 580 calories a day in snacks -- enough for a fourth meal -- but U.S. researchers say the snacks may not be linked to weight gain.

Richard D. Mattes, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, says 25 percent of the calories people eat each day are from snacks -- especially beverage consumption outside of a regular meal.

"There has been a significant increase in the amount of calories consumed through beverages," Mattes says in a statement.

Beverages account for 50 percent of the calories consumed through snacking, Mattes says.

However, snacking is not linked with weight gain, G. Harvey Anderson of the University of Toronto says.

"The literature does not support the intuitive notion that increased consumption of snack foods is an independent cause of obesity," Anderson says. "In fact for some age groups -- young children and older adults, for example -- foods consumed outside a meal are important sources of nutrients as well as energy."

Since nearly 100 percent of Americans in all age groups eat a snack every day, more research is needed on what people consider snacks and what they are snacking on, researchers say.

The findings were presented at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo in New Orleans.

Source: UPI