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Food Texture Influences People’s Perception of Calories

Update Date: Apr 16, 2014 10:55 AM EDT
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Food texture can make or break any particular meal. People rely heavily on varying textures when they decide whether or not they like certain foods. Aside from using texture to enjoy food, researchers from a new study found that food texture can also greatly affect how people perceive calories.

"We studied the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming," the researchers said reported by Business Standard.

The research team from the University of South Florida, the University of Michigan and Columbia University conducted five experiments to study the relationship between food texture and calorie perception. In one of the experiments, the researchers divided the participants into two groups. Both groups were given soft and hard brownies to eat while watching TV. In one of the groups, the participants were asked to estimate how many calories were in each type of brownie, which made them conscious of the fact that they were eating a high-calorie snack. In the other group that acted as the control, the participants ate whichever brownie they liked.

The researchers found that the participants that were asked to pay attention to the calorie content of the brownies ended up choosing the hard brownie over the soft one. In the control group, the participants picked the soft brownies more often. The researchers concluded that when it comes to texture, people associate fat with softness. Harder foods that are more difficult to chew were associated to having fewer calories.

"Understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices," the researchers stated.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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