Health & Medicine - Posted by Stacey Shackford-Cornell on Friday, June 29, 2012 14:46 - 0 Comments
To fill up after a fast, most pick fries
CORNELL (US) — After going without food for 18 hours, most of us would rather reach for French fries or chicken fingers—not green beans or carrots.
A new study, published June 25 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that 75 percent of participants placed on an 18-hour fast started their next meal with a starch or a protein rather than a vegetable, compared with 44 percent of non-fasting participants.
Further, most of the calories consumed during that meal come from whichever food is eaten first—participants consumed about 47 percent more calories from the first food they ate compared with other foods.
Straight from the Source
For the study, 128 college students were randomly assigned to an 18-hour fast (from 6 p.m. to noon the next day) or no fast. At lunch after the fast, participants ate from a buffet with their choice of two starches (dinner rolls and French fries), two proteins (chicken fingers and cheese), and two vegetables (carrots and green beans).
Hidden scales recorded the amount of each food item participants ate, and researchers observed the order in which they were consumed.
In the fasting group, 35 percent of participants began their meal with a starch, compared with 13 percent of those who did not fast. Only a quarter of the fasters ate vegetables first, compared with about half of the people in the control group.
“Even relatively mild food deprivation can alter the foods people choose to eat, potentially leading them to eat starches first and most,” says postdoctoral researcher Aner Tal, who worked with Brian Wansink, professor of consumer behavior and director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.
Food deprivation is something many people face on different occasions, because of a religious or medical fast, or simply due to the daily hassles of life, which might lead people to skip meals, he notes.
Based on the results of the study, Tal suggests that hospitals encourage fasting patients to first eat lower-calorie fruits and vegetables and to make nutrient-rich foods attractive and convenient to guide them toward healthier choices and away from overloading on higher calorie foods.
Similarly, people who miss meals as part of their daily lives should be careful about the foods they are exposed to following a fast, he says.
“Meal skippers should avoid breaking their fast with high-calorie items to reduce the risk of calorie overload.”
Postdoctoral researcher Mitsuru Shimuzu contributed to the study.
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