FORGET three square meals a day – frequent snacking is now claimed to be the best way to lose weight.

The idea of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner is out of date, according to the head of the National Obesity Forum in the UK.

Instead, people who want to stay slim are advised to eat smaller portions more often.

The comments by former GP Professor David Haslam are the latest in the long-running debate over whether it is better to eat ‘little and often' or to consume three proper meals a day.

He claims healthy snacks are ideal for busy professionals, who find it hard to eat at regularly intervals.

Professor Haslam, says: “The concept of three square meals per day is outdated and the same benefits can be achieved by having healthy nutritional snacks throughout the day.”

“Feeding your body little and often with vegetable-based snacks ensures your metabolic system is steadily stimulated and provides a continuous supply of nutrients to your body, which is particularly important for today's busy lifestyles,” he adds.

Smaller meals could transform your life. Picture: Instagram

But the American Heart Association have warned that skipping breakfast raises the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and warning people to stick to their main meals and try not to snack between them.

Professor Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University, said that the idea of snacking should not be encouraged.

“There is very little doubt that the biggest change in people's behaviours to generate obesity over the last 40 years has been the decline of the family meal and commercial promotion of snacking on manufactured foods,” says Professor Lean.

Tam Fry, also of the National Obesity Forum agrees: ‘Eating nutritious food little and often is just as good as three meals a day, and sometimes better, as sitting down for a meal often adds to overeating with people eating large portion sizes which can blow their calorie count for the day.”

* Daily Mail