August 12, 2009

Study: Women count calories around men

Women tend not to count calories when dining with other women, but they do count calories when dining with men, Canadian researchers found.

The study, published in the journal Appetite, found what women choose to eat at lunch or dinner was influenced by the gender of dining companions.

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton observed students in three large university cafeterias with a wide choice of food options and dining companions.

They found food choices of women who ate in mixed-gender groups were at the lower end of the caloric scale -- but the more men in the group the fewer the calories.

When women ate in all-female groups, their food was significantly higher in calories. Men's food choices seemed unaffected by the gender of companions.

Eating is a social activity, study leader Meredith Young said in a statement. 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.