Plane food: The number of calories consumed on the average flight revealed
Just when you thought plane food couldn’t get any worse, research arrives to prove otherwise.
According to a new book, Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, meals served at altitude not only taste terrible, but are often more calorific and, perversely, more desirable than dishes served on the ground.
There is a science behind this, explains the book’s author, Professor Charles Spence.
“The lower cabin air pressure, dry cabin air and the loud engine noise all contribute to our inability to taste and smell food and drink,” he said.
“[Therefore] the food we consume needs 20-30 per cent more sugar and salt to make it taste like it would on the ground.”
Perhaps this is why airlines won’t tell you how healthy their food is.
It gets worse: according to Professor Spence, a lecturer at Oxford University, there are other factors at play which conspire to deliver us to our destination carrying more weight than we would want.
“Next, there is the boredom,” he said. “With nothing else to do, food becomes an appealing distraction. And when it is being offered for free it will be even harder to resist.”
Even the in-flight entertainment can affect our consumption, by distracting us from our full stomachs.
“Another really big problem is the movie or television you watch,” said Professor Spence. “It is not uncommon to find people eating as much a third more food with the TV on.”
So what’s the damage? Well, in his book, Professor Spence cites research which suggests that the average Briton consumes nearly twice the recommended daily intake of calories travelling to their destinations.
“It has been estimated,” he wrote, “that the British consume more than 3400 calories between their check-in at the airport and their arrival at their destination.”
A fry-up and a couple of pints in the terminal would certainly help nudge passengers towards that figure, but the main reason for this sky-high calorie count is the plane food.