Eating with others: Do we adapt our eating behaviour to the people we eat with?

J. van den Boer, M. Mars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


From recent studies we know that eating rate is an important predictor of food intake. Eating rate is to a large extent dependent on the physical structure of the food, e.g. liquid or solid. However, eating rate also largely depends on the individual. So far it is not clear whether individual eating behaviour can be influenced by the people we eat with. Thirty healthy participants (8 males 22 females, 21 ± 2 yr. 212 ± 2 kg/m2) participated in a cross-over experiment. Participants were matched to a confederate by gender. On three randomized occasions, confederates were instructed to eat their meal (a homogenous hotchpot, offered ad libitum) with different bite frequencies, i.e. Slow: 2.8 ± 0.3, Medium: 4.4 ± 0.7, or High: 5.7 ± 0.9 bites/min. Duration of the meal and number of bites per meal were coded from video. Results showed that bite frequencies of the participants were not adjusted to that of their eating partner; Slow: 3.9 ± 1.3 Medium: 3.9 ± 1.1 High: 4.0 ± 1.3 bites/min. On average the confederates ate a similar amount of food during all three conditions (Slow: 714 ± 178 g, Medium: 708 ± 176 g, High: 705 ± 160 g; p = 0.95). The participants, however, adjusted their meal size (Slow: 692 ± 220 g, Medium: 639 ± 185 High: 618 ± 183; p = 0.038); this adjustment was largely explained by the time the confederate was eating. To conclude, it seems that bite frequency is relatively constant when eating an identical meal together. A difference in food intake is mainly determined by time the confederate was eating. This observation suggests that changing an individuals’ eating behaviour might be a sustainable strategy to influence one’s food intake, also when eating with others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-488
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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