Researchers test their "Crunch Effect" theory.

By James Oliver Cury
Updated May 24, 2017

What is the sound of one mouth eating? That is the question that researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) and Colorado State University (CSU) are attempting to answer.

Their study, published in the academic journal Food Quality and Preference, shines a light on what some have termed the "forgotten food sense." The theory suggests that if we only listened more closely to ourselves when we eat, and shut down noise around us, then we would actually eat less.

What would we hear? The goal is to listen to the sounds of chewing—crunching, gnashing, slurping, whatever—and not to the sounds of the actual food cooking (bacon sizzling and popcorn popping are the best examples). If the "Crunch Effect" is real, then we should be able to prove that mindfulness about one's body, paying attention to food when you are eating, will lead to healthier and more natural eating behaviors (less bingeing). Loud music and TV are the enemy—but only if you're trying to eat while tuning in.

To test the theory, researchers asked subjects to eat snacks while wearing headphones that played either loud or quiet sounds. The "quiet" group ate 2.75 pretzels on average, while the "noisy" group ate 4 pretzels. Over time, and with larger meals, this overeating adds up and packs on pounds.

See also our related story on how food sounds can make your food taste better.

[h/t to Psych Central]