There's been a lot of previous work into the role of sexual selection in eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia among women which presumes males tend to select mates who are slim. But there's been significantly less on what's known as "disordered eating" - such as binge eating contests that reward people for eating as many hot dogs or steaks as possible - in men and what drives this. "Analogous to the view that women 'eat lightly' in order to respond to men's mating preferences, the intersexual or mate-choice hypothesis that we test presumes that men 'eat heavily' in response to women's mating preferences," the researchers wrote. They explained:
"Heroes who might have been warriors, princes, or knights in earlier tales are described today as CEOs, oil magnates, and corporate raiders. The common thread of these roles is that they each occupy a relatively high position in their respective social contexts. In our case, just as no one would expect an evolutionary basis per se for why women should prefer men who are adept at balancing a firm's quarterly earnings to exceed Wall Street expectations, the hypothesis that women will tend to prefer men who can eat conspicuously or competitively does not need a direct evolutionary basis beyond the fact that eating represents an avenue through which men can distinguish themselves as relatively superior."
But what do the women dining with these men think? The study found that women eating with men reported that they felt rushed during the meal and that they were the ones who ate too much - even though researchers found there was no evidence they overdid it.
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