People trying to lose weight should dine with fat friends to suppress appetite
Would-be slimmers should dine with fat friends according to a new study which shows that it can encourage them to eat less.
However, eating with skinny people with large appetites could be the downfall to their diet, the research shows.
The authors of the report, titled ‘I’ll have what she is having‘, believe that people unconsciously change how much they eat depending on the size of the person they are with.
To test out their theory one of the academics, a young woman who weighed eight stone, met up with 200 university students, one at a time, at a staged cinema screening.
Each time the researcher choose either a small or large snack and the students were then offered the same choice. However, with some of the volunteers she wore a fat suit which made her look five stone heavier.
The study revealed that while subjects chose the same portion size whether they were dining with a slim or an overweight person, the amount they actually ate differed.
The findings show that if a thin person ordered a large portion, so would their dining partner, who would then go on to finish it all. However, if a fat person ordered a large portion, the pattern would be repeated except that their friend would be less likely to finish their meal.
Gavan Fitzsimons, professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University, North Carolina, said: ‘If a heavy-set colleague eats a lot, you are likely to adjust your behaviour and eat less. But a thin friend who eats a lot may lead you to eat more than you normally would.’
The research was revealed as another study showed that 10 million Britons are unaware they are obese, because being overweight is now seen as the ‘norm’.
Just seven per cent of people believe that they are carrying enough extra pound to be obese, according to a YouGov poll of more than 2,100 adults. But in reality 27 per cent of them were clinically obese, the same percentage as official figures.