Listening to the sounds you make while eating could cause you to eat less, according to a new study.
Writing in the journal Food Quality and Preference, researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University found that sound is “an important sensory cue in the eating experience.”
They call it the “crunch effect,” and their research indicates that hearing the sounds you make while eating could cause you to eat less. By the same token, watching loud television or listening to loud music while eating could “mask” eating sounds, making one likely to eat more..
"Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense,” said 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.”
For the study, the researchers conducted three experiments to determine the effects the sounds of chewing, chomping and crunching had on how much a subject ate.
During the experiment, subjects wore headphones and listened to noise at either a high or low volume. Those who listened to the higher volume noise ate more, eating an average 4 pretzels compared to 2.75 for those who listened to the lower volume noise.
“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,” said Elder. “The effects many not seem huge—one less pretzel—but over the course of a week, month, or year, it could really add up.”
The researchers said people should also include the sound of eating as a part of the experience that also includes taste and appearance.