Thursday, 17 November 2011

More food please

Why do people eat too much?

Today I bring you some psychological reasons people eat too much.

Food is no longer just food. We mix food with security and love and sometimes we say we eat with our eyes.

People have some trouble to find when it's the best time to stop eating and when their no longer hungry.

I have the same problem. We usually don't rely on my stomach but on all sorts of external cues, from the size of our plate or the habits of others around us (many kids that are obese come from overweight families). If the size of the plate is two times bigger from our usual plate we don't care and eat everything plus the dessert.

In behavioural economics I have been studying many psychologist' papers and many of them have papers about our necessity to eat so much. (I'm not writing the references but if you need I can share them with you) . The main conclusion of these papers: people depend on how much others give them and larger sizes causes them to eat more.

But what drives people to order bigger portions when they know it isn't healthy for them?

Many psychologists have found people are guided by social status. Bigger portions a desire to signal status.

Think of all the cultural norms that associate larger products with increased status, from the screen size of televisions to the size of our houses. And plus it's more prestigious to have one TV for each room even though we don't watch TV at all at home.

Interesting to note that in experiments where people were said they had less power they would eat more than other people with more power but when told they were in a prestigious event they would eat less than those with power.

"The larger point is that we don’t just eat to fill the void in our belly. Instead, we eat excessively to fill all sorts of empty spots, one of which is a chronic lack of status." by Jonah Lehrer

Curiosity: the number of people worldwide who are dangerously overweight has now exceeded the number who are undernourished.

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