Surely, after this experiment, there is no more science left to science. Everything has been scienced. Discover Magazine brings us news that researchers designed an experiment related to snacking in which men and women were outfitted with fat suits to determine whether “feeling fat” changed their eating habits. Turns out, it did, but only for women.
The findings, set to be published in the journal Appetite, bolster researchers’ theory that self-identification as overweight leads to overeating and weight gain, regardless of whether the person is actually, by medical definition, overweight. Using both women and men as subjects, researchers outfitted the participants with fat suits that mimic an obese body, then measured whether the subjects ate more snacks than they did while wearing normal clothing.
There was no change in men’s snacking habits, but women wearing fat suits were found to consume more food. (Scientists conducted the snacking sessions in both private and public settings, and found that women ate more either way.) The exact reasons for this aren’t yet known, but researchers have some theories: “The psychosocial experience of feeling overweight may lead to increased snack food consumption in women, but the psychological mechanism explaining this effect is unclear.”
As obesity rates in the United States remain higher than public health officials would like, better understanding the psychology behind eating is crucial. This study adds to what many women have known seemingly since birth: the way we feel about ourselves impacts the decisions we make about food.