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The Bizarre Reason Men Eat More Around Women

author image Leah Groth
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.
The Bizarre Reason Men Eat More Around Women
Men eat more when dining with women, according to new research. Photo Credit: Ridofranz/iStock/GettyImages

Ladies, have you ever been out to dinner and noticed your date is eating an extraordinary amount of food (and maybe even helping himself to food off your plate)? Turns out there’s a scientific explanation for this bizarre behavior.

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Researchers at Cornell University found that men gorge on significantly more food when dining with the opposite sex than they do when dining with other men. The reason for this is plain, old-fashioned showing off. Only instead of attempting to turn you on by flexing his muscles, your peacock — sorry, your man — is proving his manliness by stuffing his face and starring in his own, private version of “Man v. Food.”


Researchers observed 105 lucky adults between the ages of 18 and 81 eating lunch at an all-you-can-eat buffet for two weeks and recorded how much each person consumed as well as the gender of their eating partners. The results were hilarious: The men didn’t just eat more food around women, they pretty much gorged on it.

When dining with the ladies, the male subjects ate a whopping 93 percent more pizza (approximately 1.5 more slices) and 86 percent more salad than the guys who dined without women. Scientists believe that this phenomenon can be explained by men trying to impress women with their eating skills on a subconscious level.

“People have an evolved tendency to ‘show off’ in front of others, whether it’s for dominance and/or to show a kind of attractiveness,” explained lead study author Kevin Kniffin, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor at Cornell University, to CBS News. “For example, there is prior work that looks at men eating spicy food as a way to ‘show off,’ and our new article looks at actual volume of food consumed — both healthy and unhealthy food — as a way to ‘show off.’”

While many studies have looked at disordered eating among women, very little has focused on men, which makes these new findings interesting. “Disordered eating among men hasn’t been studied closely in previous research — and we approach overeating as a kind of disordered eating,” Dr. Kniffin explains. He also points out that people should be aware that these social habits exist so that they can change unhealthy behaviors with food.

His advice for people is that they should “calm down when eating with members of the opposite sex.” Good advice to be sure.

For all the men out there who are trying to impress women with their ravenous appetites, the truth is, we really don’t care how much you eat — just don’t steal our food, OK?

Read more: Meet the Women Who Are Changing Health and Wellness

What Do YOU Think?

Do you notice your eating habits change around the opposite sex? Why do you think men eat more when around women than when with other men? Can it be explained by evolution?

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