Objectives: Post dinner snacking may constitute a significant proportion of total daily energy intake and contribute to overweight and obesity in some individuals (night snackers). This study tested the hypothesis that providing a structured snack in the form of a "ready-to-eat" breakfast cereal would help regulate excess energy intake and contribute to weight loss in night snackers.
Methods: Adults (18 to 65 years of age, BMI kg/m2 > or = 25), with self-reported night snacking behaviors, were randomized into a cereal group (CR) and a no-cereal group (NC). During a period of 4 weeks, the cereal group was instructed to consume a serving of ready-to-eat cereal with low-fat milk 90 minutes after their evening meal. Concurrently, the non-cereal group continued their regular diet ad libitum.
Results: At baseline, there were no significant differences between groups for age, body weight, body mass index, daily caloric intake, or evening caloric intake. There was a correlation between number of days of compliance with post-dinner cereal consumption and weight loss (r = -0.36, p = 0.057). After 4 weeks, the compliant subjects (cereal intake > or = 20 d) lost -1.85 +/- 3.56 lbs vs. -0.39 +/- 3.1 lb for the NC group (p = 0.06). Compared to baseline, the compliant CR group reduced their total daily caloric intake by -396.50 +/- 641.6 kcal (p < 0.02), whereas, the NC group experienced a reduction of -23.22 +/- 889.60 kcal/day during the same period (p = ns). Reduction in post-dinner calorie intake for the compliant CR group was significantly greater compared to the NC group (-141.74 +/- 385.58 kcal vs. 85.82 +/- 374.70 kcal; p = 0.042).
Conclusion: Eating ready-to-eat cereal after the evening meal may attenuate caloric intake in night snackers and promote weight loss in compliant individuals.