Food memories may aid weight loss, researchers say

March 8, 2013 by Mary Macvean

Dieters may want to forget episodes of falling off the wagon, but researchers say an attentive memory for what is eaten could help people eat less at their next meals.

So sitting at a movie with a bucket of popcorn holding perhaps a day's worth of might be a bad idea for the present and the future, the research in the suggests. In an analysis of 24 studies, the researchers found that while distractions can lead to increased eating, that distraction is even more influential on later eating.

The key is memory, said the researchers, who are from several British institutions. And the appeal could be that incorporating "attentive-eating principles" into people's habits could help with and maintenance "without the need for conscious calorie counting."

The current studies differed from other strategies in use, such as eating slowly and mindfulness training by focusing on studies that manipulated attention to food and memory, the researchers noted.

While the studies suggest the possibility of one approach to weight control, they mostly looked at adults whose measured in the healthy range, so additional work would be needed to discover the effect on people who are overweight.

can disrupt a person's ability to notice the of the food going in, and that can lead to eating more than necessary. But that doesn't explain what happened at subsequent meals-a more pronounced increase in intake, the researchers said.

They found that enhancing memory of food consumed reduced later intake.

"However, it is not clear what aspects of memory are important," the researchers wrote. "Vividness of memory , memory for food eaten, and memory of calories consumed were all associated with changes to ."

They also said that if the last meal was remembered as filling and satisfying, it inhibits future intake.

As anyone who has tried to lose weight knows, it's a complicated business. And the researchers noted some complicating factors:

For example, eating alone may be less distracting than eating with other people. But eating with others has benefits, such as helping a family adopt healthy habits. So the advice might be better to avoid TV or the computer while eating, they said.

In experiments, researchers found that cuing or enhancing food memories led to eating less at the meal. They noted, however, that that might not be so easy to do in ordinary life and said strategies need to be developed to use this knowledge.

Similarly, keeping food wrappers and other cues of what's consumed also can help with food memories. But it might mean a rather unpleasant dining table.

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

Related Stories

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 ...

American snacking habits to blame for obesity: study

July 1, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in PLoS Medicine, researchers have shown that it is not only the American habit of “super-sizing” meals that is leading to obesity, but the number of snacks and meals ...

Researcher provides further evidence that slow eating reduces food intake

November 8, 2011
Two new studies by researchers at the University of Rhode Island are providing additional insights into the role that eating rate plays in the amount of food one consumes. The studies found that men eat significantly faster ...

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.

Children eating more, and more frequently outside the home

July 25, 2011
As childhood obesity rises and the American diet shifts towards increasing consumption of foods eaten or prepared outside of the home, concerns about the nutritional quality and the total consumption of such foods are also ...

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.


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.