Effect of taking smaller bites outweighs tendency to eat more when distracted

January 23, 2013

Eating while distracted generally makes people eat more without being aware of it, but reducing bite sizes may be able to counter this effect, according to new research published January 23 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Dieuwerke Bolhuis and colleagues from Wageningen University, Netherlands.

Previous studies have shown that taking smaller bites helps people eat less. Other research has also shown that people tend to eat larger meals if eating while distracted.

In this new study, the authors assessed whether taking smaller bites or sips of food affected meal size if eaters were distracted during their meal. Participants in the study were given a meal of soup as they watched a 15 minute . Two groups ate in pre-measured volumes of either 'small' or 'large' sips, and the rest were allowed to take sips of whatever size they liked. All participants could eat as much as they wanted, and were later asked to estimate how much they had eaten.

The authors found that people who ate pre-specified 'small' bites of food consumed about 30% less soup for their meal than those in the other two groups. The latter two groups also under-estimated how much they had eaten. Across all three groups, during the meal led to a general increase in , but even when distracted, people who ate pre-specified small sips of soup consumed less food than the others. According to the researchers, their results suggest that reducing sip or bite sizes during a meal may help those trying to lower their food intake, even if they are eating while distracted.

Explore further: Diners who use big forks eat less: study

More information: Bolhuis DP, Lakemond CMM, de Wijk RA, Luning PA, de Graaf C (2013) Consumption with Large Sip Sizes Increases Food Intake and Leads to Underestimation of the Amount Consumed. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53288. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053288

Related Stories

Diners who use big forks eat less: study

July 14, 2011

Researchers have found a new way to control the amount we eat: use a bigger fork. While numerous studies have focused on portion sizes and their influence on how much we eat, researchers Arul and Himanshu Mishra and Tamara ...

Eating behavior influenced by dining partners

February 1, 2012

Share a meal with someone and you are both likely to mimic each other's behavior and take bites at the same time rather than eating at your own pace, says a study published in the Feb. 2 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

Recommended for you

A metabolic master switch underlying human obesity

August 19, 2015

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. Affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, obesity costs at least $200 billion each year in the United States alone, and contributes to potentially ...

Scientists probe obesity's ties to breast cancer risk

August 20, 2015

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer, but researchers haven't figured out what connects the two. A new study suggests the link may be due to a change in breast tissue structure, which might promote breast ...

Can a new drug brown the fat and trim the obese person?

May 28, 2015

New research has found that a variant of a drug used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension prompts weight loss in obese mice. Among mice fed a high-fat diet, those who did not get the medication became obese while medicated ...

Changing stem cell structure may help fight obesity

February 17, 2015

The research, conducted at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), found that a slight regulation in the length of primary cilia, small hair-like projections found on most cells, prevented the production of fat cells from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.