Meals are social events and companions can influence your food choices.
Canadian Researchers have observed an interesting social interaction on food intake.
You eat more in a group then when alone.
This has been partly attributed to distraction of satiety signals, as watching a television show has the same effect.
However, there is more going on than just distraction. Earlier research has indicated that social norms also affect eating choices.
For example, eating a lower amount of calories is deemed more feminine and a low body weight is deemed attractive for young women. These norms could influence women’s food choices in the presence of potential romantic partners.
The researchers wanted to test this thesis in a real world setting. They observed students at different cafeterias at their university and recorded all persons and their food items.
When they analyzed their data, they found that women chose foods with a lower caloric value when in the presence of a male companion. This can be seen in the figure below. This effect increased with the number of men in the group. Men’s calories were not affected by total numbers of men or women.
The researchers theorize that only found an effect for women, because physical attractiveness affects women’s sex appeal more than it does to men.
For men, social status and wealth are more important detimernants of their romantic appeal. They suggest that it would be interesting to see if men choose more expensive foods in the presence of women, as a signal of means.
The results suggest that women eat less in the presence of men.
I wonder when males will become marketed as weight loss supplements for women?