Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab invited forty graduate students to a Super Bowl party and served them roasted nuts and Chex Mix from one of two buffet tables. One table had two big bowls of the snacks. The other had the same amount and type of snacks split into four small bowls.
The amount of food eaten by each person was carefully recorded by the research team. They found that people who served themselves from the large bowls ate 56% more than those who used the smaller serving bowls. As a consequence, eating from the bigger bowls meant eating an extra 142 calories!
"The size of serving bowls provide a subtle cue of how much we should eat," says Brian Wansink, lead researcher and Professor of Marketing at Cornell University. "A handful of Chex Mix from a large bowl doesn't seem like enough, but one from a medium bowl seems just about right."
So, use smaller serving bowls for party foods as part of your Super Bowl game plan! On the other hand, for healthy foods like carrots or bell pepper strips for dipping, use the big bowls to encourage your friends and family members to eat more.
The study "Super Bowls: Serving Bowl Size and Food Consumption," was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, April 13, 2005; vol 293: pp 1727-1728 by Brian Wansink along with Matthew Cheney from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More can be found at www.FoodPsychology.com.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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