The memory of having eaten a large meal can make people feel less hungry hours after the meal, according to new research.
Researcher Jeffrey Brunstorm and colleagues from the University of Bristol showed volunteers either a small or large portion of soup just before lunch, and then manipulated the amount of soup they actually ate by means of a covert pump that could refill or empty a soup bowl without the eater noticing.
Immediately after they ate, the level of hunger reported by the volunteers was proportionate to the amount of food they had eaten, not the amount they had seen just before eating, the researchers report.
But two to three hours after lunch, the volunteers who had been shown a larger portion of soup reported significantly less hunger than those who had seen the smaller portion. A full 24 hours later, the volunteers who had seen the bigger portions believed that the portion of soup they had consumed would satiate their hunger.
The results demonstrate the independent contribution of memory to feelings of satiety after a meal, according to the researchers.
“Opportunities exist to capitalize on this finding to reduce energy intake in humans,” the researchers conclude in the study, which was published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
“This study is exciting because it exposes a role for cognition in the control of hunger,” added Brunstorm. “Appetite isn’t governed solely by the physical size and composition of the meals we consume.”
Source: Public Library of Science