Medical Mysteries of Music

If your New Year’s resolution involves losing weight, turn down the music

How many millions of people rang in the new year by promising themselves that they’re going to lose weight and finally get in shape? If that’s you, here’s a tip: turn down the music.

A study from the University of South Florida discovered that people tend to eat more greasy and unhealthy foods if they’re listening to loud music–and that increase in eating crap can be as much as 20%.

It works like this. Music played at high volume gets us (a) excited, (b) stressed (even if it’s good stress) and (c) aroused, states of mind that make us want to eat bad food. This can be especially challenging if you’re eating in a restaurant. If the music is pumping, that plate of nachos will taste a whole lot better.

The study was carried out in a cafe in Stockholm. The threshold where people started ordering bad food turned out to be 70 decibels, which isn’t really isn’t that loud in the grand scheme of things. At that level and above, 52% of the items ordered off the menu were pretty junky. If the music was kept below 55 dB, the amount of healthy food orders increased to 32% while the junky stuff dropped to 42%.

Another finding was that the more you enjoy the music you’re listening to, the more you’ll enjoy what you’re eating–and you’ll probably eat more of it. And if the lights are low, you’ll eat even more. Listening to music at low volumes is actually better for eating habits than listening to no music at all.

More details here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38458 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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