If we pay attention to his line, it would be better avoiding meals with family or friends, if we are to believe a new British scientific study, published on October 4 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have thus discovered that the eating “socially”, c‘ that is to say in the company of relatives, had the effect ofsignificantly increase food intake, compared to eating alone. To study this phenomenon, called “social facilitation”, scientists analyzed 42 existing studies dealing with “social eating”.
They explain that our ancestors the hunter-gatherers shared their food in order to protect themselves from food insecurity. And this survival mechanism would have lasted until today, leading us to eat more with friends or family, for the following reasons :
- sharing a meal with others is more enjoyable than alone, and the social reward could lead to eating more;
- social norms generally allow you to eat copiously when you are in a group, whereas it is frowned upon to overeat alone;
- share food is associated with praise and recognition from loved ones, which strengthens social bonds.
“We have found strong evidence that people eat more food when they are dining with friends or family than when they are alone. However, this social facilitation effect on diet was not observed in studies that examined food consumption between unrelated or friendly people.”, Commented Helen Ruddock, co-author of the study. Thus, when we share our meal with a person who is not a relative, we would be more inclined to taking small portions of food to leave a good impression, say the researchers.
The results of previous research suggest that we often choose what we eat (and how much) based on the kind of impression we want to make on ourselves. Evidence suggests this may be especially pronounced for women who eat with men they want to impress and for people who are obese who want to avoid being judged for overeating.”, Detailed Helen Ruddock.
But the study also indicates that this social facilitation can also exert an influence on food intake “unhealthy“: he can be frowned upon for being the one who eats the most. It would be better to focus on eating at least as much as the other relatives with whom we eat, to avoid any discrimination, conclude the scientists.