A smartphone app that records every meal and snack you take throughout the day in a Snapchat-like manner shows that eating three meals a day as our grandparents did is no longer a reality in modern-day society.
According to a new study that tracked every bite of food participants took through a mobile phone app, Americans eat and snack all day long and they would do it 24/7 if they didn’t have to sleep.
People eat four meals a day on a minimum, but they also eat other stuff in some of the weirdest combinations, researchers noted. For instance, some study participants consumed home-made cream-cheese-Cheeto burgers, while they were left with no other options.
People also eat when they are supposed to engage in a physical activity. Scientists found that the time interval between breakfast and the last bite before bedtime was 14 hours and 45 minutes.
The study was published Thursday by a team of nutritionists from the Salk Institute’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Salk researchers, however, have also a promising piece of good news. The obesity and diabetes rates linked to eating all day long can be greatly lowered if people narrowed the time window between their first bite in the morning and dinner or last snack in the evening.
Earlier this year, the team performed a mouse study looking for benefits of prolonged fasting. One group of animals were allowed to eat whenever they wanted to, while another group could eat food just within a nine-hour-interval.
The first group of mice soon became obese, with no exception, while the second group remained slim although the calorie intake for both groups was the same. The latter group also showed lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and fewer inflammatory processes within their bodies. Their cholesterol levels were also reduced.
But critics said about the previous study that the findings may not be true when it comes to humans, because humans eat three meals a day, critics argued. But Salk team’s smartphone app, which recorded participants’ meals and snacks, clearly showed that humans no longer stick with the three meal plan.
Past studies were based on self-reports of how much food people ate. But these reports are often biased because people cannot keep track of every morsel they eat in 15 hours. And Salk researchers wanted to track every single cookie participants indulged in throughout the day, so they developed a smartphone app.
Study participants were asked to take a picture of every single morsel they took and upload it on a private server. When they did that, the photos on their phones vanished in a Snapchat fashion, so that they don’t see how much they really eat and decide to change their dietary habits.
The app was also equipped with a system of notifications that reminded volunteers to report their food. In only 10 percent of cases, participants forgot to snap the photos of what they consumed.
Image Source: Nikkerbockers