(CBS News) – Skipping meals may seem like a shortcut to losing weight, but a new study suggests it could backfire and actually increase belly fat.

For the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers from The Ohio State University and Yale looked at the impact of different eating habits in mice. Some of the mice were allowed to nibble throughout the day, while others were put on a restricted diet where they were fed just once every 24 hours. The dieting mice tended to scarf down their daily allotment of food all at once — the equivalent of fasting most of the day and then bingeing on a big meal.

“In this restricted group, everybody became what we call gorgers,” Martha Belury, the senior author of the study and a professor of human nutrition at OSU, told CBS News. “Even though we took the mice off their diets after a few days, they would still gorge.”

Those on the restricted eating plan initially lost weight, but gained it back when more calories were restored to their diets — a pattern that many humans dieters will find all too familiar.


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