Objective: Eating behavior is influenced by internal and external factors. Vision is one part of the complex pattern of factors influencing the amount of food consumed during a meal. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of vision on the microstructure of eating behavior and the subjective motivation to eat.
Research Methods and Procedures: Nine blind subjects and nine matched seeing control subjects consumed a standardized meal registered by VIKTOR, an eating monitor, measuring the microstructure of the eating behavior. The eating behavior of the control subjects was registered twice, with and without blindfold.
Results: The eating behavior of the blind subjects did not differ from that of seeing control subjects. However, the eating behavior of seeing subjects eating with blindfold demonstrated a clear impact of vision on eating behavior. When blindfolded, subjects ate 22% less food (p < 0.05), had shorter meal durations (p < 0.05), and had less decelerated eating curves (p < 0.05). Despite a smaller amount of food consumed when blindfolded, the reported feeling of fullness was identical to that reported after the larger meal consumed without blindfold.
Discussion: The importance of vision in regulating our eating behavior is further stressed in this study. Eating with a blindfold decreased the intake of food, without making subjects feel less full. Eating blindfolded, therefore, may force subjects to rely more on internal signals. These results might be used as an aid in the development of new treatment strategies for obese subjects.