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Hauntedbytheghost ofdinners past
By SARAH BERRY
Mind bender: Perception affects
our satiety, a new study has
I think, therefore I eat.
Our thoughts and memory of
eating may affect our appetite more
than we realise, new research shows.
A study by the University of
Bristol, published last week in the
Plos One journal, found that how
much we think we have eaten, as
opposed to much how much we
have actually eaten, affects our
sense of being satiated.
So, hunger, several hours after a
meal, can be predicted by our
perception of how much food we
remember seeing in front of us.
To test the theory, 100 adult
participants were shown either a
small (300 millilitre) or large (500 ml)
bowl of creamed tomato soup
before lunch. They were then given
a bowl of soup and told to consume
the entire serving.
Using hidden tubes at the bowl's
base, scientists adjusted the amount
of soup eaten by participants and
found that immediately after the
meal, those who had, consciously or
not, consumed a 500 ml bowl of
soup, reported being more satiated.
''We attribute this to the immediate
proximal effect of the food
promoting neural and endocrine
signalling,'' the authors said -- a
finding that is consistent with the
traditional school of thought that
appetite is dictated by our
endocrine system's signals, which
return our bodies to balance when
we are sufficiently satiated.
''But, two to three hours after the
meal, hunger no longer matched the
actual amount consumed. Instead,
even after after balancing for age,
gender, and initial hunger, the
researchers found that participants
who saw the 500 ml bowl of soup
reported greater satiety than those
shown the 300ml bowl, regardless of
which size bowl they ended up
''Participants who thought they
had consumed the larger 500-ml
portion reported significantly less
''This was also associated with an
increase in the 'expected satiation'
of the soup 24 hours later,'' the
It is not the first time research has
shown perception plays an
important part in appetite.
We know, of course, that most
people don't eat purely for survival,
but for palatability and pleasure too.
This can have an important
influence on the amount eaten.
What we eat and the amount we
eat can also be affected by those
In addition to this, it has
previously been found that amnesia
sufferers may eat more meals than
they need because they have
forgotten the previous one.
Despite this, they still report little
change in their hunger.
But, it has been said that this may
be due to damage in the hunger-
regulating receptors of these
In light of this, the study authors
said that, ''for the first time, this
manipulation exposes the
independent and important
contribution of memory processes
''Opportunities exist to capitalise
on this finding to reduce energy
intake in humans.''
Sydney Morning Herald
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