Some Men Dress to Impress and Some Just Eat More, New Study Reveals

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Men eat moreMen try to impress women by eating more, according to a new study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Understanding the dynamics of eating behaviors among members of the opposite sex is an interesting area of research within eating behavior psychology. We already know that men tend to overeat among other men because of their competitive nature. Women are more likely to restrict their food intake whether they are in the company of men or women in order to remain competitive contenders when it comes to finding their mates. This behavior is far too common among women, which is why researchers have focused most of their research regarding eating disorders with females. However, men also like to show off in front of women and may engage in increased food intake. This can result in weight gain and may be another form of an eating disorder.

It is a unique concept since women tend to be attracted to men who show dominant, manly characteristics, which include consuming large amounts of food. However, women are also generally attracted to fit and athletic individuals. Overeating leads to increased weight and these changes to a male’s body can be a turnoff to some women.

Researchers from Cornell University were determined to understand gender differences in eating behaviors. They wanted to understand how food intakes differed when dining among same sex individuals versus dining while in the company of mixed gender groups.

Their observational study evaluated food intake among 105 adults over their lunchtime break. Researchers observed food intake over a two-week period in a restaurant serving all you can eat pizza, salad, and side dishes. They also took into account any unconsumed foods left on patrons’ plates after they left their tables.

Participants were asked about their choice in selecting a restaurant as well as other places they had considered dining at for lunch. After completion of their meals, patrons completed a survey upon payment at the cash register. The survey included questions regarding how many calories of pizza they felt they consumed, and general perceptions regarding their intake such as if they felt rushed, if they felt uncomfortable, and if they felt they ate too much.

Findings revealed that men consumed significantly more pizza and salad when dining with women present, compared to dining with a group of just males. However, among women, the gender of dining partners had no significant role in determining the amount of food that they consumed. Men ate significantly more pizza than women did and both genders ate more pizza when dining in mixed groups.

“These findings suggest that men tend to overeat to show off—you can also see this tendency in eating competitions which almost always have mostly male participants,” lead author Kevin Kniffin stated.

Although women generally feel they eat lighter in the company of men, there is no evidence supporting this claim. More so, women reported that they felt rushed and overate when dining with men. However, there were no differences in how comfortable men felt when eating with others.
These findings can help provide insight as to what encourages the feelings of discomfort and anxiety leading to food consumption when individuals are dining among members of the opposite sex. Further, it encourages researchers to investigate the social aspects regarding food consumption patterns when considering public health and associated policies.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“Eating to impress: Men eat more food when dining with women.” ScienceDaily web site November 17, 2015; www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151117112053.htm.
Kniffin, K.M., et al., “Eating heavily: Men eat more in the company of women,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2015; doi: 10.1007/s40806-015-0035-3.


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Leah Shainhouse, R.D.

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Leah Shainhouse is a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario and a member of the Dietitians of Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Honors, in Nutritional Sciences from the University of British Columbia and went on to complete her dietetic training and Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition at McGill University. Leah has a strong desire to help shape the lives of individuals through a healthy lifestyle. She enjoys working with people to help... Read Full Bio »