SINGAPORE: Eating a snack on the go does not fill you up as much as a sit-down meal, said experts from the University of Surrey.
The research, which was published in the journal Appetite on Oct 23, was tested on 80 women. The participants were each given a pot of pasta to eat in two ways: Either in a plastic container to be eaten standing up with a plastic spoon, or served on a ceramic plate at a table with metal cutlery.
After finishing their pasta, the participants took part in a taste test on various sweets such as chocolate biscuits and M&Ms. Those who stood while tucking into their pasta ate 50 per cent more calories in the taste test than those who ate their pasta at the table.
The scientists found that the difference in the way people regarded a "snack" and a "meal" determined whether they would eat more afterwards. Hence, the women who ate pasta from plastic containers while standing perceived the food as a snack rather than a meal. This is so even when the calories of the "snack" and "meal" are the same.
The study concluded that people mentally tick off their three meals a day. When they sit down to eat one of those meals, they feel that they do not need to eat again for a few hours. But if they eat a snack on the go or standing up, they do not tick it off and feel as though they still need to eat again.
Study lead Professor Jane Ogden, a health psychologist at the University of Surrey, said in a Daily Mail article on Oct 29: "It is to do with registering that you have eaten. Knowing that you have eaten is a psychological process - you tick off the fact you have had a meal."