BYU study: Hearing yourself chew may reduce food consumption

BYU study: Hearing yourself chew may reduce food consumption

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

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PROVO — Watching TV or listening to music while eating may seem like a great way to relax, but it could end up hurting your waistline, according to a new study.

Dubbed the “crunch effect,” a team researchers from BYU and Colorado State University said they found people don’t eat as much when they can hear themselves chewing. Ryan Elder, an assistant professor of marketing at BYU, called sound a “forgotten food sense.”

“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 statement. “The effects many not seem huge — one less pretzel — but over the course of a week, month, or year, it could really add up.”

Photo: Jaren Wilkey/BYU
Photo: Jaren Wilkey/BYU

Three experiments played a role in the study, which was published in “Food Quality and Preference.” In one, participants were provided with pretzels and headphones set to play loud or quiet noise. While listening to the sounds, those on the loud setting ate four pretzels while those who were on the quiet setting only ate 2.75, according to the study.

Just the suggestion to think about the sounds of mastication seemed to have some effect on study participants, with people who listened to advertisements that included crunchy chewing sounds reportedly consuming less.

“If people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption,” Elder said.


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