Let's Do Lunch (Or Not): Lighter Midday Meal Eases Weight Loss, Study Finds

Easy on the mayo: Study finds lighter lunch helps shed the pounds
Easy on the mayo: Study finds lighter lunch helps shed the pounds

Well, a new study today vindicates my anti-lunch position:

Researchers at Cornell report that simply eating a lighter lunch can help people lose weight fairly painlessly.

Their research, published in the October issue of the journal Appetite, found that people who grazed on "portion-controlled" lunches didn't make up for those calories by stuffing themselves later in the day. That, according to a Cornell press release, led researchers "to believe the human body does not possess the mechanisms necessary to notice a small drop in energy intake," and could be a path to modest weight loss.

"The study closely monitored the food intake of 17 volunteers who ate whatever they wanted from a buffet for one week. For the next two weeks, half the group selected their lunch by choosing from one of six commercially available, portion-controlled foods, such as Chef Boyardee Pasta or Campbell's Soup at Hand, but could eat as much as they wished at other meals or snacks. For the final two weeks, the other half of volunteers followed the same regimen.

While eating portion-controlled lunches, each participant consumed 250 fewer calories per day and lost, on average, 1.1 pounds."

Doctoral student Carly Pacanowski, who co-authored the study with David Levitsky, Cornell professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology is quoted saying: "Making small reductions in energy intake to compensate for the increasing number of calories available in our food environment may help prevent further weight gain, and one way of doing this could be to consume portion-controlled lunches a few times a week." She adds: "Over a year, such a regimen would result in losing at least 25 pounds."

This program aired on August 29, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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