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Fool Me Once
The Psychology of Overeating

We believe that people overeat because food tastes really good, or because we’re really hungry. In reality, those are two of the last things that influence how much people eat. We are a nation of mindless ContainerSizeeaters. If there is nothing to stop us from grabbing something to eat, we just keep doing it until something, or someone (yours truly!) tells us to stop. Here are some facts from research done by Brian Wansick, the author of Mindless Eating —Why we eat more than we think. Brian is Professor of marketing in the applied economics and management department at Cornell University, where he directs the food and brand lab. He understands the business of marketing food. They want us to eat more, not less!

SEE MORE, EAT MORE  People ate more crackers after seeing a mock-up of a box showing more crackers than after seeing a mock-up of the same box showing fewer crackers.

FANCY NAMES  Cafeteria sales jumped by 27 percent when foods were given descriptive names like “Succulent Italian Seafood Filet” (instead of “Seafood Filet”) or ”Belgian Black Forest Cake” (instead of “Chocolate Cake.”)

MORE VARIETY, MORE CALORIES  People ate about 40 percent more if they had a choice of candy that came in six different colors than if the candy came in four colors.

PLATE WARE MATTERS  People who use 10” plates eat considerably less than people who use 12” plates.Crackers

BOWL SHAPES MATTER, TOO  People eat more from a wide

bowl than from a taller, skinnier bowl.

FOOD ON THE TABLE  Men ate about 29 percent more —and woman about 10 percent more— if the serving dish was left on the table (rather than the counter).

WHO SETS THE PACE?  People ate more when they sat at a table with someone who ate quickly than with someone who ate slowly.

HOW MUCH DID I EAT?  People ate fewer chicken wings if they could see the bones of the wings they’d already eaten than if the bones were whisked away, or if the wings were boneless.PlateSize

HEALTHY RESTAURANT?  People who believed that Subway meals were healthy underestimated the calories in Subway meals more than they underestimated the calories in McDonalds meals.

PACKAGES LABELED SMALL If there are two packages of cookies, each holding 20 ounces, one labeled small and the other labeled medium, the person who gets the “small”  bag will eat more of the contents than the person who gets the “medium” bag.

From Nutrition Action Newsletter