Researchers Find That Music Affects How We Eat

Music contributes more than just ambiance to your dining experience—it may drive your eating behavior.Diners listening to slower music approach eating more calmly, chew their food more thoroughly, and linger longer at the table, a new study from Italy has found.At the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, investigators performed an experiment to determine how music tempo affects diners’ eating behaviors by evoking emotions.Their results, published recently in the journal Food Quality and Preference, show that music has the potential to help people change their eating habits—possibly benefitting those with eating disorders as well as those who are dieting or simply wish to limit or moderate their food intake.Music and MoodWe’ve all had the experience of our mood suddenly shifting when we hear a certain type of music, and scientists have repeatedly observed, confirmed, and quantified this phenomenon.One recent music therapy intervention for geriatric inpatients in an Australian hospital found music was “comforting” and “soothing” to patients, and that it helped them forget their worries. Hospital staff said the music therapy sessions both brightened and calmed their elderly patients’ moods.Classical music, especially, has been shown to promote in listeners the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, leading to reduced feelings of anxiety and stress and a positive effect on heart rate and blood pressure.The Italian investigators, led by Riccardo Migliavada, who has a doctorate in ecogastronomy, education, and society, assert that beyond its abilities to affect mood, music also has the related power to influence our behavior while eating, including our “taste perception, appetite and food choices.” They note a body of research exists showing restaurant background music affects the amount of food patrons eat, how quickly they eat it, and even how they perceive its flavor.Related StoriesThey point to one study in particular in which subjects perceived food (in this case, chocolate gelati) as sweeter when they ate it while listening to music they enjoyed.Researchers have labeled this phenomenon “audio-gustatory interaction,“ and claim musical genre affects the ”emotional flavor” of food and beverages people eat while listening to it—and thus how people experience and describe what they taste.Even people receiving inpatient treatment for eating disorders showed improved eating behaviors while listening to music, according to research published in January in the Journal of Eating Disorders. The 51 women involved in the study reported that both calming piano music and pop music improved their mood during meals, which can be stressful experiences for people with eating disorders.Dietitians who observed the patients also reported the patients showed improved mealtime behaviors (leaving less food uneaten and performing fewer disordered eating “rituals”) when music was played.Tuning in to TempoThe new study in Italy investigated the particular effects of tempo, rather than musical genre, volume, or other factors. The authors chose to isolate this component because “among the many technical variables, music tempo is one of those that seem to influence eating behavior the most, affecting the speed of eating and drinking and meal duration,” they wrote.Mr. Migliavada and his researchers randomly divided 124 subjects into two groups: one that listened to music at a fast tempo of 145 beats per minute (BPM) and another that listened to music at 85 BPM while eating focaccia bread.They observed the subjects’ eating behaviors by analyzing video recordings of them eating, measuring their leftovers after eating, and administering a questionnaire.Subjects listening to the faster (145 BPM) music reported feeling more “active, energetic, and enthusiastic” than those listening to slower music. Those in the slower music group reported feeling more “calm and peaceful” compared to subjects in the faster music group.The investigators found that in addition to feeling more relaxed, those who listened to slower music spent more time eating and chewed their food more thoroughly than those who listened to faster music. This “confirm[ed] the influence of musical tempo on eating behavior,” they wrote.“In particular,” they report, “this is the first study to report that slow-tempo music may increase the number of chews and total chewing duration.” Chewing, an often overlooked part of healthy eating, is an important element in digestion. It aids in nutrient assimilation and even brain health, according to the researchers.Conversely, as music’s BPM sped up, the study subjects’ food consumption increased while the time spent eating decreased. However, there was no difference in the total amount of food eaten by the subjects in the two groups.Chewing food more slowly and thoroughly—thus spending more time eating—affects how quickly people feel “full” or satisfied, and may be a useful strategy for weight loss.As the researchers put it, “A l

Researchers Find That Music Affects How We Eat

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Music contributes more than just ambiance to your dining experience—it may drive your eating behavior.

Diners listening to slower music approach eating more calmly, chew their food more thoroughly, and linger longer at the table, a new study from Italy has found.

At the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, investigators performed an experiment to determine how music tempo affects diners’ eating behaviors by evoking emotions.
Their results, published recently in the journal Food Quality and Preference, show that music has the potential to help people change their eating habits—possibly benefitting those with eating disorders as well as those who are dieting or simply wish to limit or moderate their food intake.
.

Music and Mood

We’ve all had the experience of our mood suddenly shifting when we hear a certain type of music, and scientists have repeatedly observed, confirmed, and quantified this phenomenon.
One recent music therapy intervention for geriatric inpatients in an Australian hospital found music was “comforting” and “soothing” to patients, and that it helped them forget their worries. Hospital staff said the music therapy sessions both brightened and calmed their elderly patients’ moods.
Classical music, especially, has been shown to promote in listeners the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, leading to reduced feelings of anxiety and stress and a positive effect on heart rate and blood pressure.

The Italian investigators, led by Riccardo Migliavada, who has a doctorate in ecogastronomy, education, and society, assert that beyond its abilities to affect mood, music also has the related power to influence our behavior while eating, including our “taste perception, appetite and food choices.” They note a body of research exists showing restaurant background music affects the amount of food patrons eat, how quickly they eat it, and even how they perceive its flavor.

They point to one study in particular in which subjects perceived food (in this case, chocolate gelati) as sweeter when they ate it while listening to music they enjoyed.
Researchers have labeled this phenomenon “audio-gustatory interaction,“ and claim musical genre affects the ”emotional flavor” of food and beverages people eat while listening to it—and thus how people experience and describe what they taste.
Even people receiving inpatient treatment for eating disorders showed improved eating behaviors while listening to music, according to research published in January in the Journal of Eating Disorders. The 51 women involved in the study reported that both calming piano music and pop music improved their mood during meals, which can be stressful experiences for people with eating disorders.
Dietitians who observed the patients also reported the patients showed improved mealtime behaviors (leaving less food uneaten and performing fewer disordered eating “rituals”) when music was played.
.

Tuning in to Tempo

The new study in Italy investigated the particular effects of tempo, rather than musical genre, volume, or other factors. The authors chose to isolate this component because “among the many technical variables, music tempo is one of those that seem to influence eating behavior the most, affecting the speed of eating and drinking and meal duration,” they wrote.

Mr. Migliavada and his researchers randomly divided 124 subjects into two groups: one that listened to music at a fast tempo of 145 beats per minute (BPM) and another that listened to music at 85 BPM while eating focaccia bread.

They observed the subjects’ eating behaviors by analyzing video recordings of them eating, measuring their leftovers after eating, and administering a questionnaire.

Subjects listening to the faster (145 BPM) music reported feeling more “active, energetic, and enthusiastic” than those listening to slower music. Those in the slower music group reported feeling more “calm and peaceful” compared to subjects in the faster music group.

The investigators found that in addition to feeling more relaxed, those who listened to slower music spent more time eating and chewed their food more thoroughly than those who listened to faster music. This “confirm[ed] the influence of musical tempo on eating behavior,” they wrote.

“In particular,” they report, “this is the first study to report that slow-tempo music may increase the number of chews and total chewing duration.” Chewing, an often overlooked part of healthy eating, is an important element in digestion. It aids in nutrient assimilation and even brain health, according to the researchers.

Conversely, as music’s BPM sped up, the study subjects’ food consumption increased while the time spent eating decreased. However, there was no difference in the total amount of food eaten by the subjects in the two groups.

Chewing food more slowly and thoroughly—thus spending more time eating—affects how quickly people feel “full” or satisfied, and may be a useful strategy for weight loss.

As the researchers put it, “A longer oral transit during chewing allows the sensory properties of food to interact with sensory receptors, acting as sensory cues relevant to satiety.” Feeling satiated reduces hunger following a meal and may also prevent overeating at the next meal, they noted, leading to sustainable improved eating habits.

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