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Snack Timing Affects Fruit, Vegetable Intake, Weight Loss

Lower weight loss in mid-morning snackers; higher fruit, vegetable intake in afternoon snackers

THURSDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The timing and frequency of snack meals can affect dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and can impede weight loss interventions, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Angela Kong, Ph.D., R.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues investigated the correlation of timing and frequency of snacking with weight change (percent) and nutrient intake at 12 months, among 123 postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women (average age 58 years; 84 percent non-Hispanic white). Participants were enrolled in two dietary weight-loss arms from 2007 to 2008.

The investigators found that 97 percent of the participants reported consuming at least one snack per day. Mid-morning (10:30 a.m. to 11:29 a.m.) snackers had significantly lower weight loss than non-mid-morning snackers (7 versus 11.4 percent). More than one snack per day was consumed by 95.7 percent of mid-morning snackers, 82.8 percent of afternoon snackers, and 80.6 percent of evening snackers, but the differences were not statistically significant. Compared with women who reported one or no snacks per day, those who consumed two or more snacks had significantly higher fiber intake. Fruit and vegetable intake was significantly higher among afternoon snackers than non-afternoon snackers.

"These results suggest that snack meals can be a source for additional fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods; however, snacking patterns might also reflect unhealthy eating habits and impede weight loss progress," the authors write.

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