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The Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Beating Mindless Eating

Beating Mindless Eating

Most of us don't overeat because we're hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, and other environmental factors. We investigate how these factors influence us and how to make them work for us rather than against us.

Plate Size and Color Suggestibility: The Delboeuf Illusion Bias on Serving and Eating Behavior
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The main objective of in this study was to determine whether the well-established perceptual biases associated with the Delboeuf Illusion have a corresponding effect on serving behavior. Overall we found that people over serve themselves when using larger dinnerware and under serve themselves when using smaller ones. Increasing the attention and education of people reduced the over and under serving biases. Furthermore, reducing the color contrast between dinnerware and the background, or increasing the color contrast between the plate and food also reduces over and under serving biases.

Serving Bowl Selection Biases the Amount of Food Served
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Do common serving bowls containing food for multiple persons influence serving behavior, consumption, and satiation? In this study we found that larger bowl size increases the amount people serve themselves, which leads to increased consumption, and greater feelings of satiation.

Watching Food Related Television Increases Caloric Intake in Restrained Eaters
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Many past studies have shown that television viewing is associated with increased food intake. Research also suggests that restrained eaters, or dieters, will respond more strongly to environmental cues associated with food than non-dieters. In this study we focused on examining how television content, food intake and restrained eating status are related.

Food Compensation: Do Exercise Ads Change Food Intake?
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In this study we focused on the effect of exercise advertising on food intake, a largely unexplored research area. Our results demonstrated that exercise commercials can influence overall food intake, particularly so among overweight individuals.

The 100-Calorie Semi-Solution: Sub-Packing Most Reduces Intake Among the Heaviest
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In this study, we examined if 100 calorie packages have different effects on people of normal weight versus people who are overweight. Sub-packaging resulted in participants eating 25.2% less calories and this effect was more pronounced amongst overweight individuals, who decreased their intake by 54.1%.

Just thinking about exercise makes me serve more food. Physical activity and calorie compensation
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Introducing a new exercise routine may not result in the desired weight loss because people engage in more indulgent eating behaviors as a means of compensation. In this study we went a step further set to explore if merely the thought of exercise could induce increased consumption in food.

When Snacks Become Meals: How Hunger and Environmental Cues Bias Food Intake
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Environmental and situational cues influence food intake in ways that are still unclear. The focus of this study is whether people consume more when an eating occasion is perceived with meal cues as opposed to snack cues.

Mindless Eating and Healthy Heuristics for the Irrational
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Healthier diets usually focus on food choice decisions, but changing the environmental factors that increase food intake volume may be a simpler, easier, and more effective way to decrease our consumption.

Meal Size, Not Body Size, Explains Errors in Estimating the Calorie Content of Meals
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Why do overweight people underestimate the caloric content of their meals more than normal–weight people do? We found that the size of the meal, not the body weight of its consumer, is responsible for this increase in underestimation.

Is Obesity Caused By Calorie Underestimation? A Psychophysical Model of Fast–Food Meal Size Estimation
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Is obesity actually caused by calorie underestimation? We predict that the underestimation of calories is based on meal size, not body size.

The Influence of Incidental Affect on Consumers' Food Intake
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How do affective states influence food intake and what role does nutritional information and the nature of the product play on this effect? The present research examines these factors and the authors present and discuss the implications for food companies, policy makers, health professionals and consumers.

Super Bowls: Serving Bowl Size and Food Consumption
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How does the size of serving bowls affect food consumption? This study shows that larger bowls leads to greater consumption.

Bad Popcorn In Big Buckets: Portion Size Can Influence Intake As Much As Taste
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It is often believed that people overeat the foods they like. We investigate whether environmental cues such as packaging and container size are so powerful that they can increase our intake of foods that are less palatable. If so, there are important implications for improving the consumption of healthy (but less preferred) foods.

Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake
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Do visual cues alter our perceived intake and satiety levels? We used self–refilling bottomless soup bowls to examine how much people ate when their visual cues were biased.

Environmental Factors that Increase the Food Intake and Consumption Volume of Unknowing Consumers
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Environmental factors such as package size, plate shape, variety, and social interactions influence how much you eat to a greater extent than you may realize.

The Influence of Assortment Structure on Perceived Variety and Consumption Quantities
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While actual variety may often account for differences in consumption quantities, we show that perceived variety of an assortment also influences consumption.

Exploring Comfort Food Preferences Across Gender and Age
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Does preference for comfort foods vary across age and gender? We surveyed over 1000 Americans about their favorite comfort foods and found that women tend to prefer snack– related comfort foods and men meal–related comfort foods, among other sex and age differences in preference.

When are Stockpiled Products Consumed Faster? A Convenience–Salience Framework of Post–Purchase Consumption Incidence & Quantity
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The Sam's Club Store Curse: Buying in bulk causes you to eat these visible foods more frequently.

How Visibility and Convenience Influence Candy Consumption
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College secretaries ate twice as many chocolate kisses when these kisses were placed on their desk than when they were placed 6 feet away. They also lost track of how many they had eaten.

At the Movies: How External Cues and Perceived Taste Impact Consumption Volume
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Chicago moviegoers who were given large–size popcorn containers ate 45% more than those given medium–size containers. This even happened when they were given stale, 10 day old popcorn.

"Engineering Comfort Foods"
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A survey of 1000 North Americans show the top comfort foods for women and for men.

Can Package Size Accelerate Usage Volume?
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For 47 of 48 products, large package sizes increase your consumption an average of 22%

Antecedents and Mediators of Eating Bouts
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When foods are sitting out, we eat them more frequently, but we eat them in smaller quantities than when we go get them from the cupboard.

"Out of Sight, Out of Mind:" The Impact of Household Stockpiling on Usage Rates
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Simply thinking of a stockpiled food increases the likelihood you'll eat it within 48 hours.