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People Who Worry Less About Snacks Are Less likely to Gain Excess Weight

Update Date: Nov 30, 2013 10:05 AM EST

With Thanksgiving weekend coming to an end, the feeling of guilt might start to affect people. Since Thanksgiving dinner usually involves a large amount of foods and desserts, people might begin to feel guilty about snacking on leftovers or chocolate cake after the holiday is over. Even though healthy eating and physical activity are beneficial for maintaining body weight, worrying too much about what one is eating can be detrimental to a certain extent. A new study is reporting that people who do not feel guilty about snacking are less likely to gain weight.

For this study, psychologists set out to examine how people's perception of snacking influences calorie consumption. The research team from the University of Canterbury located in New Zealand used chocolate cake to observe how guilt plays a role in weight gain or loss. The team headed by Dr. Roeline Kuijer and Jessica Boyce recruited 300 adults between the ages of 18 and 86. The participants were asked questions about their eating habits and whether or not they were dieting to lose weight. The team asked the adults if they felt happy or guilty after eating chocolate cake.

The researchers discovered that 27 percent of the adults reported feeling guilty where as 73 percent of the people stated that they were happy after eating chocolate cake. The team followed up on people's weight control a year and a half later and they discovered that the group of people who felt guilty was more likely to have gained weight in comparison to the people who did not feel guilty.

"Associating chocolate cake with guilt was related to an increase in weight," the authors wrote reported by Daily Mail. "But those who saw it as a celebration were, on average, more successful in losing weight. Enjoyment of food is essential to people's well-being. This study shows those who consume a 'forbidden food' with celebration and view it as a treat do better in terms of weight management."

The researchers reasoned that feelings of guilt might lead to weight gain because people might feel that they have broken their diet plans by consuming a dessert. These people might then completely give up on their diets, which increases their chances of weight gain.

The study was published in Appetite.

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