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Crunchy or Smooth? Food's Texture May Sway Perception of Calories

WEDNESDAY, April 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Creamy butter or ice cream versus a crunchy granola bar: A new study suggests that the texture of foods influences people's dieting choices.

"We studied the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming," wrote study authors Dipayan Biswas and Courtney Szocs, both from the University of South Florida, and others.

In one experiment, participants were asked to sample foods that had soft, smooth, hard or rough textures and then estimate their calorie amounts.

In another test, volunteers were asked to watch and rate a number of television ads, thinking that was the test. But they were also given cups with bite-sized brownies as a "thank you" for their time. Half of the participants were also asked about the amount of calories in the brownies.

Some of the participants received softer-textured brownies while the other half got crunchier brownies. People who had been asked about the calories in the brownies which forced them to focus on caloric intake -- ate more of the crunchy brownies than soft.

On the other hand, those whose minds weren't focused on calories tended to eat more of the soft brownies, the investigators found.

"Understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices," the researchers concluded.

The study will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more about calories.

SOURCE: Journal of Consumer Research, news release, April 15, 2014

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