Most eating is psychologically motivated, says IFST

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

How we feel, think, and who we are with all influence what - and whether - we eat, says Appleton
How we feel, think, and who we are with all influence what - and whether - we eat, says Appleton

Related tags: Food

Most eating in developed countries is prompted by psychological factors – not by hunger, according to a peer-reviewed paper from the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST).

Although hunger and thirst do sometimes prompt consumption, psychological factors play a significant role in choice of portion size, second helpings, and the kinds of foods chosen. Most of these factors lead to increased consumption, says the paper’s author, Dr Katherine Appleton, associate professor in Psychology at Bournemouth University.

“One of the most interesting almost hidden determinants of eating and portion size is that of consumption norms – our understanding of the amount of consumption considered to be ‘normal’ for the situation in which we find ourselves. It’s normal, for example, to eat at certain times of day, it’s normal to eat certain foods at certain meals, and to eat certain portions of certain meals,” ​she wrote.

The environment plays a role too, and previous research has shown that people tend to eat and serve themselves more with larger plates and bowls, and consume more with background noise, such as television or music.

While diet-related ill health is on the rise across the world, it has become increasingly important to understand the causes of overconsumption in the developed world. Food is readily available, affordable and accessible to most Europeans, for example, but there are many other factors that determine what and how much people eat.

“Few of us eat just because we are hungry. Most of the time, we eat as a result of how we feel, or what we think, or even, where we are or who we are with. Most of these psychological factors, though, also result in us eating more than we know we should,”​ said Appleton.

The full statement is available online here​.

Related topics: Science

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1 comment

Fashion and taste

Posted by claude Martin-Mondiere,

Depending of the press report about a nutriment you can ask a patient to eat it or not. I did a clinical study about blueberries in pills ad in fresh fruits, decades ago, nobody wanted really to eat it. I moved to Texas where there are plenty of blueberries, it was the French Doctor preferred fruit so they were taking it to be nice to me, then scientific reports were broadband, everyone wanted blueberries, the prices went up ,just the color became popular

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