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Why we eat more in groups

(1 minute read)

Research shows that we tend to eat more food when we eat with others compared to when we eat alone. It is thought to be the most important and pervasive influence on eating that has yet been identified.

This is the case for all meals, breakfast, lunch and dinners as well on weekdays and weekends, although people do tend to eat more on weekends in addition to more in groups.

Researchers also found the more people at the meal, the more an individual will eat, up to 76% more when eating with 6 or more people compared to eating alone. However this only occurs with friends and family, eating with strangers did not increase intake.

One reason hypothesised is that in groups people tend to eat for a longer period of time (around 51% longer), another is that we go into a group meal with a ‘feast’ mindset and anticipate a bigger intake to start with, another suggestion that there is simply more food readily available.

Interestingly this has been also shown in animals too.

So, although it’s important not to feel restricted when going out for dinner or eating with family, it is important to be mindful of recognising when we feel physically full, especially if we are trying to lose body fat.

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