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Follow This Sound Tip for Avoiding Overeating

Tim Boyer's picture

Are you guilty of eating too much while snacking? There may be a “sound” reason for this type of behavior. Here is one study that offers sound advice for avoiding overeating.


According to new research published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, the sounds of eating may reduce how much you eat due to that “food sound salience”―the sound that a food makes during mastication―is an important sensory cue in the eating experience.

Researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University are seeking to understand how sensory cues such as the sounds of chewing, chomping, crunching are connected to how much food a person eats during a meal or while snacking.

This research is similar to previously reported studies that looked at how sensory cues control our eating behavior and what we can do to become more mindful of our eating habits.

In the new study, BYU news reports that researchers refer to the sounds of mastication as “the forgotten food sense.”

“For the most part, consumers and researchers have overlooked food sound as an important sensory cue in the eating experience,” said study coauthor Gina Mohr, an assistant professor of marketing at CSU. “Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense,” adds Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at BYU’s Marriott School of Management. “But if people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption.”

In the study, subjects tested were provided with crunchy snacks such as cookies, pretzels and pita chips while wearing headphones and listening to either loud or relatively quiet music. Each study subject was monitored on how much snacking he or she did with the headphones on and music playing.

What the researchers observed was that the louder the music played, the more snacks the subject consumed—a phenomenon researchers refer to as The “Crunch Effect,” which suggests you’re likely to eat less if you’re more conscious i.e. mindful, of the sound your food makes while you’re eating.

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“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,” Elder said.

The point the research makes is that whether cues are external such as being at a festive holiday party filled with indulgent treats, or internal such as the sound each bite of food makes, we should strive to be more mindful of the eating process so that we can be in control of our eating cues rather than allowing those cues to be in control of us.

Sound Advice to Prevent Overeating

Therefore, the next time you sit down for a meal or reach for a snack, heed their sound advice: No earbuds, no music, and no watching TV while eating.

For more about how to prevent overeating, here is an informative article about a Simple Trick for Eating Less suggested by a new study.


BYU News “The sounds of eating may reduce how much you eat

The crunch effect: Food sound salience as a consumption monitoring cueFood Quality and Preference Volume 51, July 2016, Pages 39–46; Ryan S. Elder and Gina S. Mohr.