Our cravings for takeaway are an echo of a time when we had to forage for food

Reproduction of a Neanderthal woman t the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images
  • We all start looking for takeaway at 7pm and again at 2am no matter where we live in the world.
  • The latest research thinks this may be a behaviour we learned when we had to forage for food.
  • The scientists gathered Google search data from UK, US, Canada, Australia and India.

Humans may have emerged from the jungle a long time ago but they are still governed by the foraging behaviour of their ancestors.

The latest research has found that ordering takeaway at certain times of the day is a global phenomenon, is not culturally-dependent, and may well be behaviour set when we had to forage for food.

Analysis of Google searches shows that people get cravings for takeaway around the same time each day no matter where they live.

The data from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and India reveal that we all start looking for takeaway at 7pm and again at 2am.

The research by Nicolas Scrutton Alvarado and Tyler J. Stevenson from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, looked at internet search patterns as a reflection of a biological rhythm created as a result of natural selection.

“Successful foraging behaviour has been favoured by natural selection, which shaped innate, species-specific decision rules that maximize energy gain,” they write in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

“Across the animal kingdom, predator–prey interactions have resulted in several decisions that attempt to optimize the energetic gain per unit of time.”

The researchers think their study is the first to describe internet-based food searches as modern foraging behaviour.

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