The 'Freakonomics of food'

Do you hate Brussels sprouts because your mother did" Does the size of your plate determine how hungry you feel" Why do you actually overeat at healthy restaurants"

"You can ask your smartest friend why he or she just ate what they ate, and you wont get an answer any deeper than, 'It sounded good,'" says Brian Wansink, Ph.D.), author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," and Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Dubbed the "Freakonomics of food" by the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, Mindless Eating, uses hidden cameras, two-way mirrors, and hundreds of studies to show why we eat what and how much we eat. "The unique thing about his work is that it cleverly answers everyday questions about food and shows translates them into Good News how we can improve it," said Seth Roberts, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Take how much we eat. Wansink claims we typically dont overeat because we are hungry or because the food tastes good. Instead we overeat because of the cues around us family and friends, packages and plates, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.

Consider your holiday ice cream bowl. If you spoon 3 ounces of ice cream onto a small bowl, it will look like a lot more than if you had spooned it into a large bowl. Even if you intended to carefully follow your diet, the larger bowl would likely influence you to serve more. This tricks even the pros.

During one holiday party, Wansink and his Lab put this to the test by inviting 63 distinguished nutritional science professors at a leading university to an holiday ice cream social. When they arrived, they were given either medium-size 17-ounce bowls or large-size 34-ounce bowls. "Even though these people think, sleep, lecture and study nutrition," Wansink said, "They still served themselves and ate 31 percent more ice cream (106 more calories) if they had b

Contact: Sandra Cuellar
Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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