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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note

Air Date: Week of June 8, 2001

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Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports that eating a variety of foods at one meal may lead to overeating.

Transcript

GRABER: Variety may not be the spice of life - when it comes to overeating. In a recent study, scientists found that piling different foods on your plate actually encourages you to eat more. Here's how they found out. Researchers gave one group of people a four course meal of sausage, bread and butter, chocolate, and bananas. Another group was given only one of the courses. Turns out that the group that ate four different courses ate 44% more food than the other group. A separate experiment, conducted with a buffet of food, came up with similar results.

Researchers say that variety keeps people from getting tired of how food tastes and keeps them from getting that full feeling. Looked at from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. Different foods provide different nutrients, and we tend to keep on tasking foods and adding to the nutritional content of our diet.

Eating a variety of foods is still important today, to get that nutritional diversity. But if you're concerned about eating more than you need, it's probably better to vary meal by meal instead of feasting at the local smorgasbord.

That's this week's Health Note, I'm Cynthia Graber.

TOOMEY: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

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