Thursday, February 22, 2007

Do People Eat More in Crowds?

Sounds crazy, at least it sounded crazy to me, but it turns out that yes, people eat more when they're in groups, reports the New York Times.

Apparently this is not a new finding. "It has often been observed in animals and adults that consumption goes up as the number eating increases. People will even keep eating past the point when their appetite has been satisfied," reported the Times.

What's new is that in a recent University of Michigan study, the behavior was observed in preschool children. And according to the times, "that may have implications for fighting the obesity problem."

Oh yes? Perhaps we should have kids eat in isolation chambers instead of cafeterias. I guess the choice is ours to make. Do we want anti-social kids or fat ones?

Anyway, scientists have developed two theories for why people eat more in groups. One is that when people are in a group, they socialize more, thus extending the length of the meals and "their contact with food," reported The Times.

The second possibility is "the arousal theory," which is pretty bizarre, but I like it. According to the theory, "the sight of others eating leads to more and faster consumption, especially in animals, which may feel they are competing for food."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.