This Is One Of the Weirdest Studies I've Ever Seen
The texture alone of certain foods is enough to make many people stop eating them for good. After all, nothing like the sliminess of oysters to swear them off forever, right?
The opposite might be true concerning the smell of certain foods. I mean, unless you're vegetarian or vegan, how can you resist the savory smell of bacon frying on the griddle? It's irresistible, and it's enough to make you climb over the back of the couch with abandon to enjoy it.
The way our senses affect our appetite is pretty astounding, and the weirdest thing is what researchers have learned about how appetite is affected by the sound of chewing.
This study suggests there's a considerable number of people who will lose their appetite if they hear the sound of crunching or popping when they eat.
I had no idea...
Now don't misunderstand me; I have friends who are entirely put off by the sounds of other people eating. I get it - some people enjoy their meals with the same passion as a ravenous dog does tearing through a bowl of Kibbles and Bits. It's definitely off-putting.
But to think hearing yourself chew could cause you to eat less is something else altogether.
According to the researchers at Colorado State and Brigham Young universities, the effect of "food sound salience" has a dramatic impact on appetite.
This is nuts.
Medical News Today writes:
In one study, participants consumed snacks while wearing headphones that played noise at different volumes.
Results showed that louder noise masked the sound of chewing, causing participants to eat more. Those in the group with the loudest sounds ate four pretzels, while the "quiet" group ate 2.75 pretzels.
In other words, the more conscious a person is of the sound their food makes while they are eating, the less they are likely to eat.
The authors call this the "Crunch Effect."
Study co-author Gina Mohr, an assistant professor of Marketing at CSU, says that the sound of food is "an important sensory cue in the eating experience," but that consumers and researchers largely overlook its effect.
Ryan Elder, assistant professor of Marketing at BYU's Marriott School of Management, says:
"Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense. But if people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption."
They went on to say that activities we participate in while eating could be what contributes to the ever-expanding waistbands of the American public.
While I'm sympathetic to the notion, I still think it has more to do with the kinds of food we're eating and the lack of exercise we get, but still.
I'm not sure what the precise numbers are, but a recent survey estimated 60-70% of Americans eat while watching TV. I'm sure that number doesn't include people who are on their computers, either.
So maybe - just maybe - if you want to try and eat less, you should take out the headphones, turn off the TV and just focus on the sound of your meal.
Let me know if it works.