Friday, October 17, 2008

Big dishes, Big portions

We know that larger portion sizes result in weight gain, but did you know that your dishes and utensils also affect how much you eat?

Dr. Brian Wansink founded the Cornell Food and Brand Lab where his research focuses on the factors that influence what and how much people eat and how much they enjoy it. He published many of his findings in his great book, Mindless Eating: Why we eat more than we think.

Check out this upside down T. Which line do you think is longer: the vertical one or the horizontal one?

The vertical one looks longer, right? In fact, they’re actually the same length!

According to Wansink, our brains have the tendency to overfocus on the height of objects at the expense of their width.

His research found that when kids poured themselves juice into short wide glasses, they poured themselves 74% more juice compared to those that used tall thin glasses. What's more, they thought they had poured themselves less juice than they had! That’s because you get the impression that there's less juice when it's in a short fat glass compared to in a tall skinny glass.

The same study done on adults found that they poured 19% more soda into short wide glasses compared to tall thin glasses!

Here’s another. Which orange circle looks bigger?

The one on the right appears bigger, but they’re actually the same size!

Wansink explains that we us background objects as a benchmark for estimating size.

He conducted a study where professors and PhD students from the Nutritional Science Division were invited to an ice cream social. They were randomly given either a 17-ounce or a 34-ounce bowl and could serve themselves ice cream using either a 2-ounce or 3-ounce ice cream scoop.

What Wansink found was that the larger the bowl, the larger the portion size. Those that received the larger bowls unknowingly served themselves 31% more ice cream than those with smaller bowls! Those that got the large bowls and used the larger serving spoons served themselves, and ate, nearly 57% more ice cream than those with smaller bowls and spoons! And these were nutrition experts...

If weight loss is a goal for you, you may want to start using smaller dishes and utensils!


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