Article

Eating in larger groups increases food consumption

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Archives of Disease in Childhood (Impact Factor: 2.91). 06/2007; 92(5):384-7. DOI: 10.1136/adc.2006.103259
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To determine whether children's food consumption is increased by the size of the group of children in which they are eating.
Crossover study.
University based preschool.
54 children, aged 2.5-6.5 years.
Each child ate a standardised snack in a group of three children, and in a group of nine children.
Amount each individual child consumed, in grams.
Amount eaten and snack duration were correlated (r = 0.71). The association between group size and amount eaten differed in the short (<11.4 min) versus the long (> or =11.4 min) snacks (p = 0.02 for the interaction between group size and snack duration). During short snacks, there was no effect of group size on amount eaten (16.7 (SD 11) g eaten in small groups vs 15.1 (6.6) g eaten in large groups, p = 0.42). During long snacks, large group size increased the amount eaten (34.5 (16) vs 26.5 (13.8), p = 0.02). The group size effect was partially explained by a shorter latency to begin eating, a faster eating rate and reduced social interaction in larger groups.
Children consumed 30% more food when eating in a group of nine children than when eating in a group of three children during longer snacks. Social facilitation of food consumption operates in preschool-aged children. The group size effect merits consideration in creating eating behaviour interventions.

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