Skipping meals may make you buy more calories

Updated: May 07, 2013, 12:19 PM IST

Washington: Even short-term food deprivation not only increases overall grocery shopping, but leads shoppers to buy 31 percent more high calorie foods, a new Cornell study has revealed.

People skip meals for all sorts of reasons - dieting, fasting, insane schedules that make you forget to eat, said Aner Tal, PhD, from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, lead author of the study.

"But it doesn`t matter why you skipped a meal, it can still make your nutritionist cry - making you buy more potato chips and ice-cream and less baby carrots and skim milk," Tal added.

In one study, 68 meal skippers were either given food (wheat thins) to reduce their fasting-induced hunger or not given any food to keep them hungry following the fast, and then asked to make purchases at a simulated grocery store.

The hungry shoppers that did not eat the wheat thins bought 18.6 percent more food - including 31 percent more high calorie snacks.

At a follow-up study, researchers observed late afternoon shoppers at an actual grocery store during the hours between lunch and dinner -the hungriest hours-and the hours just after lunch, when people tend to be satiated.

Late-afternoon shoppers purchased fewer low-calorie foods proportionate to their overall purchases, than those shopping after lunch.

The best advice to avoid this from happening is to make sure that you don`t skip a meal, or at least have a snack like apples or string cheese in your office, suggests Brian Wansink PhD, co-author of the paper.

"Breakfast is the most skipped meal, and even having something for lunch that has protein will cut your hunger edge," he added.