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Study: Changing the Color of Your Plate Can Help You Eat Less


Selecting the right size and color of the plates you eat on could help you eat less, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Study researchers asked 225 students to pour a specific amount of tomato soup into one of seven different sized bowls. Three smaller bowls, three larger bowls and one “control bowl.”

Researchers noticed that the participants poured less soup than the suggested serving size, into the smaller bowls and they poured more into the larger ones.

The authors of this study, Koert van Ittersum of Georgia Institute of Technology and Brian Wansink of Cornell University, said that the size of dinner plates has increased by nearly 23 percent since 1900, and eating a mere 50 calories per day could result in a weight gain of five pounds each year.

“The bigger your dinnerware, the bigger your portion. If you use larger plates, you could end up serving 9 percent to 31 percent more than you typically would” the authors said.

Follow-up studies, researchers also showed that selecting the correct size bowl, is almost impossible to eliminate among people through awareness, education, or practice.

Results of the study also convey that selecting the right color plate or table cloth, can successfully eliminate what researchers refer to as “bowl bias”. In a separate field study, participants were asked to serve white-sauce or red-sauce pasta on either a large white or a large red plate.

It was shown that by changing the color of the plate, and by reducing its high contrast, allowed people to serve 21 percent less. It was also shown that by changing the color of the tablecloth reduced how much people served themselves by 10 percent.

“In the midst of hard-wired perceptual biases, a straightforward action would be to simply eliminate large dinnerware, replace our larger bowls and plates with smaller ones or contrast colors,” the authors concluded.

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