Sunday, January 21, 2007

See It, Eat It, and Other Subconscious Reax

Fascinating research, HT: The Big Picture. Pavlov would be very pleased, indeed.

Brian Wansink (also of Cornell) has been called the "Sherlock Holmes of Food." He is the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and is the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Wansink claims that our minds make more than 200 food-related decisions a day -- most of them without any actual thought.

Container size influences how much we eat: Moviegoers given five-day-old stale popcorn still ate 53% more if it was served in a big bucket than a small bucket.

Size of a serving bowl, a plate, or a package has repeatedly been shown to bias how much a person serves himself and eats by an average of 20-30%.

Glass Shapes: Because of visual illusions, people (even bartenders) pour 28% more liquid into a short wide glasses than tall ones.

We eat more if we like what we're drinking: In one study, diners drank the same wine but 1/2 were told it was from California, and the other 1/2 were told it was North Dakota wine (No, ND does not make wine). Those who thought they were drinking California wine ate 11% more food.

Bulk Purchases: 50% of the snack foods bought in bulk (such as at a warehouse club store) are eaten within 6 days of when it is purchased (Wansink and his Food and Brand Lab have been credited with the discovery of the 100 calorie packs)

Names of a food can create either positive or negative predispositions that can unfairly bias a person's perceived taste of a food.

Self Service: A person will eat an average of 92% of any food they serve themselves.

We don't pay attention to the extras: 31% of people leaving an Italian restaurant couldn't remember how much bread they ate; 12% of the bread eaters denied having eaten any bread at all.

We eat more if the evidence is removed: In a study of chicken-wing eaters, waitresses removed the bones from half the tables while letting them stack up on the other half. The diners who still had piles of bones on their plates ate 28% less.

Too much variety makes us overeat: Snackers were given bowls of M&Ms with either 7 or 10 colors of the candy. Snackers with 10 color options ate an average of 43 more candies than those with just 7 colors to choose from.

Proximity of candy on one’s desk has been shown to double how much a person eats over the course of a day

Friends make you eat more: You'll eat 35% more dining with a friend than when eating alone. Even worse, a person will double the amount of food ingested when dining in a group of 7 or more.

Eating fast makes you consume more calories: Consider this University of Rhode Island study on diet: researchers showed the speed at which we eat influences caloric intake. Faster eaters consumed on average 67 more calories then when they ate slowly. That's about seven pounds of per year. (People also reported feeling more full after eating slowly).

Although most of that is "Duhhh!" material, it's "Duhhh" on which most people don't reflect.

That's why the weight loss biz is over $10Bn/year in the USA.

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