Overeating is a growing problem. But what makes us overeat? Obviously, delicious food can be hard to resist, but that’s clearly not the only factor. Here, scientists explored whether feeling overweight changes how we eat. It turns out that wearing a suit designed to make one feel obese did change participants’ eating habits — but only for women. Women, but not men, ate more snack food when wearing the fatsuits, even in private. The scientists were not able to determine why this was true, but it’s true.
“Self-identification of being overweight has been associated with overeating and weight gain in observational studies, irrespective of whether the individual in question is objectively overweight. The aims of the present studies were to examine whether experimentally manipulating the psychosocial experience of feeling overweight impacted on snack food consumption and to identify mechanisms explaining this effect. In Study 1, to manipulate the psychosocial experience of feeling overweight, 120 women wore an obese body suit or control clothing in public or private settings, before consuming snack foods. Wearing the obese body suit resulted in an increase in snack food consumption and this effect was not moderated by whether participants wore the obese body suit in public or in private. In Study 2, we aimed to replicate the effect of the obese body suit on snack food consumption and also examined whether the effect of the body suit on eating behaviour was moderated by participant sex (n = 150; 80 women). Women who wore the obese body suit ate significantly more than women who wore the control clothing, but this effect was not observed in men. Across both studies we examined a number of potential mechanisms that could explain the effect that wearing the obese body suit had on snack food consumption, but did not find supporting evidence. The psychosocial experience of feeling overweight may lead to increased snack food consumption in women, but the psychological mechanism explaining this effect is unclear.”