Simply not having enough awareness about eating could be the culprit. A recent study designed to examine the attitudes of middle aged American women toward food, found that those who tended to eat impulsively or who were described as "guilt-ridden dieters" were the most obese among a group of 200 women who participated in the study. Those who weighed least were women who were concerned about nutrition and were determined to eat well and those who were creative cooks focused on healthy food for their families. In the middle was a group of women who led busy lives and were preoccupied with responsibilities and activities other than food, and therefore tended to avoid cooking. The average age of the women in the study was 46. This was a well-educated group - two-thirds of the participants had four-year college degrees. The researchers compared the groups of women by percentage of body fat, waist size and body mass index. The study was published in the December 2009 issue of Health Education & Behavior.
My take? It's not surprising that impulsive eating was linked to weight problems in this study. When you reach for chocolates, snack foods or other "comfort" foods, it's often because you're stressed, depressed, or bored. When you eat in response to social cues - such as having lunch or dinner when you're not hungry - or when you eat unconsciously, you're not really tuned in to your nutritional needs or your body's signals of hunger and satiety. To successfully control your weight, you have to pay attention to what you eat - both quality and quantity - and carve out the time to think about your nutritional needs and prepare healthy meals.