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

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.

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Eating soup will help cut calories at meals

May 01, 2007

Eating low-calorie soup before a meal can help cut back on how much food and calories you eat at the meal, a new Penn State study shows. Results show that when participants in the study ate a first course of soup before a ...

Eating behavior influenced by dining partners

Feb 01, 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 ON ...

Could our minds be tricked into satisfying our stomachs?

Jul 13, 2010

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that the key to losing ...

Recommended for you

Largest genome-wide study reveals genes driving obesity

16 hours ago

In obesity, some people store fat evenly throughout the body while others store fat around the abdomen. Storing fat around the abdomen places some obese individuals at an increased risk of developing diabetes ...

Divorce fuels sugary beverage consumption, study finds

Mar 03, 2015

Children of recently separated or divorced families are likelier to drink sugar-sweetened beverages than children in families where the parents are married, putting them at higher risk for obesity later in life, according ...

People watching tearjerkers eat 28-55% more

Mar 02, 2015

Sad movies are bad news for diets. A newly reported study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab showed movie-goers watching tearjerkers ate between 28% and 55% more popcorn both in the lab and in a mall theater ...

User 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.