Monday, September 26, 2011

Eating Alone

To be perfectly honest, I am not much interested in mice. I am willing to examine experiments involving these rodents, but I hesitate to draw stark conclusions from them.

I am going to make an exception today, because Time Magazine had just reported on a set of experiments that show that a sociable mouse will eat better and maintain a better weight than will a lonely mouse, without even being on a diet.

Time concludes that people who socialize are more likely to have better control over their weight. It does not quite make the next leap, to recognizing that eating alone is bad for your health, your weight, and your appetite.

It sounds like reinventing the wheel, but the experiments seem to telling us that the best way to control appetite is to eat with other people.

Today a goodly number of Americans are acting like mice running on an endless treadmill. As a nation, we are obsessed with dieting and counting calories, as though that were the pathway to health. 

If we believe the mice, however, the solution to America’s obesity epidemic might lie in formal eating rituals. I would add that table manners probably also contribute to proper alimentary habits, but that hypothesis, alas, cannot be tested with mice.

Could it be that this culture-driven emphasis on you, your appetite, and your calorie count is just a smokescreen? Could it be that the solution to America’s obesity problem lies in cafeterias and refectories, family dinners and business lunches, power breakfasts, Sunday brunches, and company picnics?


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