Can listening to music while you eat make you gain weight? A study showed that listening to music during meals played a role in longer meals and eating more. Should this make you avoid listening to music during meals while dieting?
A small study by Georgia State University showed that listening to music while eating could be one environmental factor that could cause you to eat more. This study was done to see what factors influenced food and beverage intake in a natural, real-world setting.
The study was conducted over a week’s time with students who recorded environmental factors present at the time of the meal. Listening to music while eating was found to be one factor that lengthened the duration of the meal and increased the amount of food eaten during that time.
The volume level or pace of the music did not seem to affect the amount eaten in this study. A study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology showed that listening to faster music led subjects to eat more quickly, while the opposite was true while listening to slower music.
What does this have to do with dieting or weight loss? If you are trying to watch what you eat in an effort to lose weight, listening to music during a meal can cause your meal to last longer and you might eat more, especially if you are eating with others.
The longer you sit at a meal, especially with family or friends, the more likely you will be to keep eating. You may also be less likely to keep track of what you are eating so may not stop when you know you’ve eaten enough.
Does this mean you should avoid listening to music during meals while dieting? For one, this was just one small study, and music was only one of the factors that led to longer meals and more food being consumed.
An article on About.com said one study showed that those who ate while listening to classical music ate more slowly and enjoyed their food more. I could not find that study, but if this were true, you would eat less if you ate more slowly.
The best advice is that any time you are eating a meal with others while dieting, with or without music, you should be aware of how much and the types of food you are eating if you want to stick with your diet. If you like the atmosphere, don’t avoid listening to music during meals while dieting, just keep track of how much you eat, especially if the meal lasts a long time.
Nanette Stroebele and John M. de Castro; Listening to music while eating is related to increases people’s food intake and meal duration; Science Direct
Adrian C. North and David J. Hargreaves; The Effect of Music on Atmosphere and Purchase Intentions in a Cafeteria; Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Elizabeth Scott; Top 7 CDs for Relaxation and Stress Relief; About.com