How Our Friends Influence The Way We Eat


A new study reveals that when we share a meal with an overweight person, we also share their eating habits.

Mitsuru Shimizu, one of the authors of the paper, which will appear in the journal “Appetite”, said we should know the reason for that.

“We were interested in how people around us influence our eating behavior.”

To understand how people influenced each other’s eating habits, Cornell University Food and Brand Lab researchers asked 82 students to eat lunch, which included spaghetti and a salad, with an actress. The researchers randomly assigned the students to one of these conditions:

  • In one situation, she wore a fat suit, but served herself more salad than pasta.
  • In the second, she wore a fat suit and served herself more pasta.
  • In the third, she appeared without the fat suit and served herself more salad.
  • In the fourth, she appeared without the fat suit and served herself more pasta.

Then the researchers looked at how much the students ate. Even when the overweight person had salad, her companions loaded up.

Shimizu explained that we tend to share eating habits of our overweight friends.

“When they are eating with overweight eating companions, regardless of what she serves herself, participants ate more pasta. They ate less salad even if the overweight person ate more [salad].”

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