It's official: Dining at your desk or on the move makes you gain weight

Emma Haslett
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Next time you grab a sandwich, eat in rather than at your desk (Source: Getty)

We all know we should get outside for some fresh air at lunchtime - but it turns out missing out on exercise isn't the only reason eating "al desko" makes you gain weight.

A new study, by scientists at Surrey University, has found if you're focusing on something other than your meal - by, for instance, checking email or updating Facebook - your body will effectively "forget" you've eaten, and thus be hungry later in the afternoon.

And that doesn't just go for eating at your desk - snatching a quick bite to eat on the move is equally bad. In fact, the study found those who ate while walking around tended to consume five times as many calories later on as those who dined while they were sitting down.

“Eating on the go may make dieters overeat later on in the day,” said Professor Jane Ogden, one of the lead authors of the report, which is published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

“This may be because walking is a powerful form of distraction which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger. Or it may be because walking, even just around a corridor, can be regarded as a form of exercise which justifies overeating later on as a form of reward.

“Even though walking had the most impact, any form of distraction, including eating at our desks can lead to weight gain. When we don’t fully concentrate on our meals and the process of taking in food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don’t track or recognise the food that has just been consumed.”

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