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Want to Lose Weight? Listen to Yourself Eat


Researchers say that hearing the sounds made while eating may cause people to eat less. (Photo courtesy of Brigham Young University)

Researchers say that hearing the sounds made while eating may cause people to eat less. (Photo courtesy of Brigham Young University)


From VOA Learning English, this is the Health and Lifestyle report.

Restaurant chefs, home cooks, and foodies -- people who love good food -- often say that we eat with all of our senses.

First, we use our sense of sight to appreciate how a meal is presented, either on a dinner plate or a dining table. Our sense of touch can also be important when preparing or sharing food.

Next, with our sense of smell, we breathe in the mouth-watering aromas rising up from the meal. Finally, we enjoy and perhaps even savor the food with our sense of taste.

But what about our sense of hearing? Does sound also affect our dining experience?

A new report answers, ‘yes,’ it does.

That answer comes from researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University in the United States. They found that hearing is important in the eating experience.

Hearing is often called “the forgotten food sense," says Ryan Elder.

Elder is an assistant professor of marketing at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management. He says that if people notice the sound the food makes as they eat it, they might eat less.

On the other hand, watching loud television or listening to loud music while eating can hide such noises. And this could lead to overeating.

For the study, the researchers wanted to test whether the sounds of eating – chewing, chomping and crunching – had any effect on how much a person ate.

During the experiments, the test subjects wore headphones and listened to noise at either a high or low audio level. Then researchers gave them a crunchy snack: pretzels. The study found that subjects who listened to the higher volume noise ate more pretzels than those with the low audio levels.

Elder says that when hiding the sounds of eating, like when you watch television or listen to loud music while eating, we take away the sense of hearing. And this may cause you to eat more than you would normally.

The researchers are calling this, the "crunch effect."

The researchers admit that the effects may not seem like much at one meal. But over a week, a month, or a year, all that food can really add up.

But besides not overeating, there is another upside.

Hearing the noises of your meal as you eat, could help you to be more mindful of the experience and perhaps help you to enjoy it more.

The researchers reported their findings in the journal Food Quality and Preference.

I’m Anna Matteo.

VOANews.com reported on this story. Anna Matteo adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

appreciatev. to understand the worth or importance of (something or someone) : to admire and value (something or someone)

mouth-wateringadj. having a very delicious taste or appealing smell <a mouth-watering aroma> <mouth-watering food>

aromasn. a noticeable and usually pleasant smell

yummyadj. very pleasing to the taste

savor v. to enjoy the taste or smell of (something) for as long as possible

sensoryadj. of or relating to your physical senses

cue n. a feature indicating the nature of something perceived

on the other hand - phrase used to present factors that are opposed or that support opposing opinions

chew v. to use your teeth to cut food into small pieces before you swallow it

chomp v. to chew or bite on something

crunchv. to chew or press with a crushing noise

upside n. a part of something that is good or desirable : an advantage or benefit

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