Women's health * Healthy living * Weight loss * Mental wellbeing

Eat with a man to lose weight

Id rather have cake, thank you very much! Only if you are a woman

Women eat less fattening foods if they are dinning with men, or so a new study claims.

US researcher Meridith Young watched the dinning habits of men and women in three large university cafeterias with a wide choice of both food and dining companions.

She discovered that women eating with men chose foods with significantly lower calorific value than foods selected by women eating only with other women.

What's more, this was found to be true even in mixed gender dinning groups - the more men in the group, the lower the calorie count. When women ate together in all-female groups, their food was significantly higher in calories.

Young suggested that as women know who they are going to sit down with for meals, this influences their choice of food - whether they realise it or not.

Because advertising images of women often depict very slim women as "ideal", they make food choices influenced by how they think others percieve them.

"It is possible that small food portions signal attractiveness, and women conform, whether consciously or unconsciously, to small meals in order to be seen as more attractive," says Young.

As for men, it seems that their dinning companions had no bearing on their choice of food - they chose the same when eating with women as they did when eating with other men.

So perhaps always eating with a group of attractive young men could be a winning weight loss strategy for a woman - maybe we should ask for volunteers.

The study was carried out at McMaster University in Canada and the results are published in the online version of the international journal Appetite.

This article was published on Thu 6 August 2009

Image © nsphotography - Fotolia.com

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