At the end of the study the women were asked to record the time, type and frequency of meals consumed on a normal day. Percent of calories from fat, fiber and fruit and vegetable intake were also estimated using a food-frequency questionnaire.
"Many people think that a weight-loss program has to mean always feeling hungry," McTiernan said. "Our study suggests that snacking may actually help with weight loss if not done too close to another meal, particularly if the snacks are healthy foods that can help you feel full without adding too many calories."
Nationwide surveys indicate that 97 percent of U.S. adults report snacking, and such behavior is consistent across age groups. One study that surveyed a national random sample of more than 1,500 adults found that the most commonly preferred snacks were salty and crunchy items such as potato chips, pretzels and nuts; baked goods such as cookies and cakes; fruits; and ice cream.
Not all snacks are created equal, however. Foods less conducive to weight loss include empty-calorie items that contribute fat, salt, sugar and little nutritional value, such as potato chips and sugar-sweetened beverages.
For a woman on a weight-loss diet, a healthy snack should pack a nutritional wallop without breaking the calorie bank. "Since women on a weight-loss program only have a
|Contact: Kristen Woodward|
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center