Researchers from Brigham Young University and Colorado State University determined that the noise you make while you’re eating could convince you to eat less – a phenomenon they refer to as the “crunch effect.” This noise, they clarify, isn’t the same noise made when food is being cooked, or the noise made when certain foods crack, but rather the noise made when you’re actually chewing.
The researchers performed three experiments and determined that the sound of people eating and chewing their own food wasn’t the only time the crunch effect manifested. Even television ads had an impact on the subjects, as the sounds of people eating on TV also caused them to eat less. One of the experiments also revealed that the effect is more prominent when the sound of chewing is especially intense.
That study had participants wearing headphones that played a loud noise while they were eating snacks, masking the sound of themselves chewing, and another group wearing headphones that made a quiet sound. The “loud” group ended up consuming an average of four pretzels, as to an average of 2.75 for those in the “quiet” group.
“The effects many not seem huge — one fewer pretzel — but over the course of a week, month, or year, it could really add up,” said study co-author Ryan Elder in a statement. He added that sound is “typically labeled as the forgotten food sense,” and with that in mind, people could end up eating less if they concentrate on the sound of themselves chewing their food.
Elder and his colleagues also suggested that people turn off their TV sets or turn down their music while eating, allowing them to focus more on eating their food, and consequently reducing their consumption.