The next time you have lunch with the opposite sex, here’s something to chew on: According to a new study, men who dine with women tend to overeat compared to men who eat with other men.
In the study, published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, researchers observed diners in an all-you-can eat Italian restaurant in the Northeast, counting the slices of pizza and bowls of salads each ate. After their meals, the diners were asked if they had overeaten, felt rushed, or were physically uncomfortable.
When men ate with women, they ate 93 percent more pizza and 86 percent more salad. While women did not eat more, they did feel like they had consumed more than they actually did and felt like they had overeaten. They also felt rushed.
The subject of intrasexual diet habits has been studied before. Most famously, studies have found women eat significantly less when they are dining with a desirable male partner. But research has focused less on male eating habits, researchers in this study said.
Who we eat with—and even who we’re friends with—can heavily influence our healthy and unhealthy habits. So can our gender. Researchers theorize that the evolution of men might have influenced the outcomes of this study—men may eat more in the presence of women because a healthy appetite could be considered “an attractive demonstration of strength and energy.” A study earlier this year suggested that men might eat new foods in front of potential mates to signal their strong immune systems.
Regardless of the reasons, the study is food for thought the next time you make a lunch date.
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