Science

Food cravings peak twice nightly, in countries all around the world

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Do you ever find yourself scouring the web for pizza delivery services to satisfy those late-night cravings? You’re not alone: A new study reveals that hungry web surfers around the world all start searching for food-related information at two peak times, 7 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Wanting to see if they could spot trends in human behavior based on a massive database of Google searches, a team of scientists analyzed hourly food-related queries from five countries: the United States, Canada, India, Australia, and the United Kingdom. For two 1-week periods, they looked for general food-related keywords such as “pizza delivery” or “Chinese delivery” and country-specific delivery companies like India’s “Swiggy” and “Just Eat,” which serves the United Kingdom and Australia. They also analyzed 5 years of data to see if they could discover seasonal trends.

The two spikes in food-related searches occurred across all countries, keywords, days of the week, and seasons, the researchers report today in Royal Society Open Science. They say the peaks likely represent two different groups of people searching for nighttime nourishment, one older (the early birds) and one younger (the night owls). Another hypothesis is that the two groups are simply running on different internal body clocks, which affects when they want their evening calories.

Further studies are needed to reveal the real answer. In the meantime, you might want to listen to your guts and keep your laptop handy for when it’s time to start searching. 

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