Variety Leading to Obesity?

August 01, 2011

Is the variety of food on offer causing us to overeat? A study out of Buffalo may make you feel more comfortable about eating the same thing over and over

The average supermarket has over 50,000 products, the choice can be overwhelming and researchers are finding that the abundance of food choices (not only in supermarkets but all around us) promotes excess consumption. Could the variety of choices we have access to actually be fueling the obesity crisis? In an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers from the University of Florida suggest that diversity in menus could be promoting excess consumption and increased body mass index. 

The article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is in response to a study from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where researchers found that both obese and non-obese women who were given macaroni and cheese daily, for five days reduced their intake, compared to those who were given macaroni and cheese once a week for five weeks. The authors of this study concluded that people loose interest in their food when repeatedly exposed to the same item; a behavior known as habituation. 

To a similar tune, another study found that changing the number of colors in a bowl of M&Ms from seven to ten different colors, increased consumption by over 40 percent!

Researchers also say that the findings are particularly significant for people who may suffer from food addiction. Meal monotony, with proper nutrition, could be used as a weight-loss strategy, dimming the appetite and therefore reduce calorie consumption.

But let’s face it; a life without variety could be very boring. SupermarketGuru encourages you to listen to your body and be aware that we are always surrounded by food cues, so take a step back and ask yourself if you are really hungry and how much you are hungry for.