If you want to cut back on how much you eat, it might be a good idea to keep things quiet during meals, researchers suggest.
In a series of experiments, they found that people tend to eat less if they’re more conscious of the chewing, chomping and crunching sounds they make while eating — and that loud TV or music can mask those sounds.
For example, study participants wore headphones that played either loud or quiet noise while they ate pretzels. Those exposed to loud noise ate four pretzels, while those in the quiet noise group ate 2.75 pretzels.
“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,” said study co-author Ryan Elder. He is an assistant professor of marketing in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.
“When you mask the sound of consumption, like when you watch TV while eating, you take away one of those senses and it may cause you to eat more than you would normally,” he said in a university news release. “The effects many not seem huge — one less pretzel — but over the course of a week, month or year, it could really add up.”
The study was published recently in the journal Food Quality and Preference.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about food portions.