Kevin Kniffin, lead author of the study, explained his team came up with the idea of the new study after sifting through past research on women’s eating habits in the company of men.
Past research had shown that women tend to eat lightly when dining with a male partner probably to affirm their commitment to staying slim and healthy. Researchers were curious to learn whether that was the case with men, as well.
By contrast, men tend to overeat in the company of women, researchers found.
The study involved 105 adults who dined out at an all-you-can-eat buffet over the course of two weeks. Scientists counted all slices of pizza and side-dishes those men ate when they were alone, with their friends, and in company of women. The youngest participant was 18, while the oldest was 81.
Shortly after their dinner, study participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire on their level of satiety, and feeling of comfort or being in rushed at the table. Results showed that men tended to consume on average 93 percent more pizza slices and 86 percent more salad when they were accompanied by at least one female partner than men who dined out with their male friends.
Although researchers did not conduct a separate study on why men tend to overeat in the presence of women they have a hypothesis. Kniffin thinks that men engage in such behaviors to either show off or look more attractive in the eyes of women. He said that a past study demonstrated that men eat very spicy foods just to impress their partners.
On the other hand, researchers found that there was no change in the women’s eating patterns while in the company of other women or male partners. This finding is at odds with past research.
Nevertheless, women who agreed to be surveyed said that they tend to overeat in the company of a man and they feel rushed through their meal. Researchers found that women involved in the study didn’t actually overeat.
“That’s a new subtlety that we present in relation to the idea that women ‘eat lightly’ in the company of men,”
Nutritionists were not surprised by the new findings. Lori Rosenthal, a weight control expert at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, explained that previous studies had also shown that eating is influenced by societal factors.
Image Source: Flickr
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