People eat more in the company of friends and family than when they are alone, which indicates a possible return to the approach of our early ancestors to survival. This phenomenon is known as “social assistance,” MedicalXpress reported.
Previous studies have shown that those who eat in the company of other people eat 48% more food than single people, and obese women consumed socially 29% more than when they ate alone.
Experts from the University of Birmingham found that “social” food intake has a powerful effect on the amount of food consumed compared to dinner alone.
They explain that the ancient hunter-gatherers divided food into parts to provide for themselves during periods of lack of food - this survival mechanism can still persist today when people eat more with friends and family.
The study noted that people tend to have a common food resource. Most modern people are no longer hunter-gatherers, but mechanisms like those that once served as an efficient food search continue to guide our dietary behavior.
The recent and rapid transition to a dietary landscape in which food is abundant has created forms of “evolutionary inconsistency” - inherited food search strategies no longer serve their former purpose.
Researchers note that in the case of social assistance, we inherited a mechanism that once ensured fair distribution of food, but now has a strong effect on an unhealthy diet.
The same process was observed in chickens, rats, gerbils and other species, which indicates its ultimate goal. People compete for resources, and studies show that eating large amounts of food can lead to ostracism, which in turn reduces food security.
The solution to this problem may be to eat at least as many as the others in the group.