April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Our taste in food is an intimately personal thing. Some foods we savor, and some we despise. Tastes, texture and temperature are just a few things that can make a difference.
A team of researchers wondered if the way we chew and eat our food could also impact our overall consumption? Their results, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, suggest that people perceive foods that are hard, or have a rough texture, to have fewer calories.
“We studied the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming,” the team wrote in a statement.
The research team conducted five laboratory studies where participants were asked to sample foods that were hard, soft, rough, or smooth and then measured calorie estimations for the food.
The research team required participants to watch and evaluate a series of television ads in one of the studies. The participants were given cups filled with bite-sized brownie bits as tokens of appreciation for their time during the tests. After watching the ads, half the participants were questioned about the caloric content of the brownies and half were not. Each of these two groups were split in half again, with half receiving hard brownie bites and half receiving soft brownie bites.
Participants who were not made to focus on caloric content consumed a higher volume of brownies when they were soft instead of hard. The group that was asked to focus on caloric content, however, consumed a higher volume of hard brownie bites rather than soft ones.
The researchers suggest that brands interested in promoting the health benefits of their products can emphasize texture, as well as drawing attention to low-calorie foods. “Understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices,” the authors conclude.