(CBS) What's the secret to weight loss? Some say diet and exercise, others point to medication, surgery, or hormone treatments. But a new study suggests if you really want to lose weight, boredom may a good bet.
Researchers from the University of Buffalo School say eating the same thing every day can reduce a person's calorie intake in as little as a week. How can meal monotony cut calories?
The researchers say it's the same reason addicts need higher doses of drugs to chase their high. Repeated exposure to the same thing eventually leads to a decreased response, a phenomenon known as habituation. But no study has looked at whether food habituation would decrease how many calories a person ate, until now.
For the study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers put 32 women, half of whom were obese, on a not-so-healthy diet of macaroni and cheese. Women were randomly assigned to eat mac and cheese every day or once a week. By the end of the study, both obese and nonobese women who had a daily mac-attack consumed fewer calories than women who ate it once a week - those women actually consumed more calories.
The study "provides a very interesting new piece to the obesity puzzle by suggesting that meal monotony may actually lead to reduced calorie consumption," Dr. Shelley McGuire, an associate professor of nutrition at Washington State University and a spokesperson for the American Society for Nutrition, told LiveScience.
The researchers still have many questions before getting behind a boredom diet. For example, how similar must foods be to cause habituation? Will a person habituate to different kinds of pizza? Can this theory really help people lose weight?
In an accompany editorial published in the same journal, the authors write that reducing the variety of food options at school cafeterias might be a good start.