Study: Dining in Silence Could Reduce Overeating

It seems hearing yourself chew is actually important
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2016 5:28 PM CDT
Study: Dining in Silence Could Reduce Overeating
If these officers are eating in companionable silence, that could be a good thing for their waistlines.   (Gabe Hernandez/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)

The hot new dieting fad could soon be eating in complete silence. A new study from researchers at Brigham Young and Colorado State found that people who can hear the sounds of their own eating—chewing, swallowing, and so forth—tend to eat less. Ergo, listening to music or watching TV during meals could lead to unintentional overeating, according to a press release. The Huffington Post UK reports researchers conducted three experiments to show the power of what they call the Crunch Effect. In one, for example, subjects listening to loud noises on headphones ate more pretzels (4) than subjects listening to quiet noises (2.75). Researchers believe that's because the sound of eating may be a "consumption monitoring cue" for our bodies.

Sound is an important part of eating, but its exact role hasn't been studied much. "For the most part, consumers and researchers have overlooked food sound as an important sensory cue in the eating experience," study coauthor Gina Mohr says in the press release. Medical Daily reports the study's results reinforce those of a 2007 study that found people who are distracted while eating tend to eat more. "If people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption," BYU's Ryan Elder says in the press release. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should all be eating in silence. "The key takeaway is to be hyperaware of all your food’s sensory properties," Medical Daily states. "Your senses are the best tools for mindful eating." (Meanwhile, being tired may make you snack like a pot smoker.)

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