Living with a spouse, or dating someone who is a light eater might just be the major deciding factor behind your own fitness levels. As per a new study, how much food your dining companion eats can influence how much you consume, and eventually, how much weight you gain or lose.
This psychological effect, known as social modeling, leads people to eat less than they normally would, when their companion consumes a small amount of food. Internal signals like hunger and feeling full can often be unreliable guides. One of the researchers explains how people can look to the example of others to decide how much food they should consume.
Based on the study, they found that when the companion eats very little, people suppress their food intake and eat lesser than they normally would if dining alone. If the partner eats a large amount, people feel the freedom to eat their normal intake or even more, if they want. The effect is observed in many different situations: with healthy and unhealthy snack foods, during meals, when the diner has been deprived of food for up to a day, and among children.
The effect appears to be stronger in women than in men. This may be because women tend to be more concerned about how they are viewed by others, especially their partners, when they are eating.
Reference: Modeling of food intake: a meta-analytic review, journal Social Influence