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Fat o’clock – the time in the week when we are most likely to start comfort eating and pile on the pounds – starts at precisely 7pm on Sunday nights.

Almost half of those questioned admitted the three hours between 7pm and 10pm on Sundays as the time they were most vulnerable to the cravings of comfort food. The other danger zone for dieters was between 3pm and 5pm in the afternoon, chosen by 28% of respondents.

Late afternoon – between 5pm and 7pm – was the third most popular time for abandoning healthy eating plans with 13% saying that is when they are most likely to succumb to calorific treats. The findings come from a new survey that also shows that weekends are, unsurprisingly, when we comfort eat the most with Sundays the most popular non-diet days.

Mondays, perhaps surprisingly, are also popular for snacks – with 12% saying they are most likely to comfort eat then, possibly to get over the misery of being back at work. Respondents were also asked at which meal they were most likely to over-eat.

The first choice was overwhelmingly dinner – chosen by 65% of those polled, lunch (16 per cent) and breakfast (just 3 per cent).

Diet experts say a key factor in the increase in comfort eating is mood swings. A staggering 65 per cent of those surveyed said they were more likely to hit the cookie jar if they had a bad day at work. Skipping breakfast also makes us turn to the sinful foods, with 41% of us skipping breakfast at least half of the week.When do you give in to cravings?