People are always willing to tell you how and when to eat but the rules seem to change all the time. The newest target for criticism is eating throughout the day or “grazing” as some call it.

Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times:

Longer fasts might help with weight loss but Americans eat all day long

It’s official: Americans’ 24/7 culture of work, entertainment and digital connectivity now also extends to our dietary consumption patterns, new research finds.

Americans’ erratic, round-the-clock eating patterns, suggests the new study, have probably contributed to an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. But they can be changed, and the restoration of a longer nighttime “fast” shows promise as a means to lower weight and better health, researchers add.

In a study that detailed the consumption patterns of just over 150 nondieting, non-shift-working people in and around San Diego for three weeks, researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla found that a majority of people eat for stretches of 15 hours or longer most days — and fast for fewer than nine hours a night.

The report contains important information about consumption events (emphasis is mine):

Despite participants’ typical claim to consuming three meals a day, “a breakfast-lunch-dinner temporal pattern was largely absent,” the researchers wrote in an article published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The participants ate and drank pretty much all day, researchers found. The 10% of eaters whose consumption “events” were most limited averaged 4.22 a day. The 10% who ate most frequently averaged 15.5 noshes per day. Fewer than 10% of participants went for more than 12 hours without eating.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, it might be because you read the 2012 article in The Onion:

http://www.theonion.com/article/report-majority-of-americans-now-eating-one-contin-30141

Report: Majority Of Americans Now Eating One Continuous Meal A Day

WASHINGTON—According to a trend analysis conducted by leading sociologists, most Americans, rather than eating a series of meals with breaks in between, are now eating one continuous, uninterrupted meal throughout the day.

“What we’re seeing is that for the majority of citizens, the process of eating now begins the instant they awake in the morning and then continues ceaselessly through the entire day until the instant they go to sleep,” sociologist Donald Sims told reporters Monday, noting that at no point during their waking hours are Americans not in some stage of consuming a food product. “In other words, a meal will not end after a food item, or plate of food items, has been eaten, but will instead continue uninterrupted for the next 16 hours or so.”

According to The Onion, this day-long feast would simply be called “Meal”:

By evening, sociologists confirmed, this continuous stretch of consumption, now known simply as “Meal,” is commonly eaten at or delivered by a restaurant, and ingested from early evening until bedtime, which today is defined as the hour at which the food runs out.

Read the rest here.

Enjoy your brunch, America.

And by the way, that counts as two consumption events.

Featured image is a screen cap.