advertisement
18 January 2012

Colour choice reduces portions

Choosing the right size and colour of your bowls and plates could help you eat less, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

0

Choosing the right size and colour of your bowls and plates could help you eat less, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"The bigger your dinnerware, the bigger your portion. If you use larger plates, you could end up serving 9% to 31% more than you typically would," write authors Koert van Ittersum (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Brian Wansink (Cornell University). The average size of dinner plates has increased by almost 23% from since 1900, the authors point out, and eating only 50 more calories a day could result in a five-pound weight gain each year.

In one lab experiment, the researchers asked 225 student participants to pour a specified amount of tomato soup into one of seven different sized bowls: three smaller, three larger, and one control bowl.

Consistent with researchers' expectations, participants served less than the target serving size of soup into the smaller bowls, and they served more into the larger bowls.

Follow-up experiments showed that the "bowl bias" is nearly impossible to eliminate with education, awareness, or practise. During two summer camps, larger bowls led people to overserve up to 31 percent more than normal.

One of the few ways to reduce bowl bias is through colour––such as changing the colour of a tablecloth or a plate. In a field study, participants were asked to serve white-sauce or red-sauce pasta on either a large white or a large red plate.

On average, changing the colour of the plate so it was high contrast reduced how much people served by 21%, and changing the colour of the tablecloth reduced how much people served by 10%.

The study reinforces the little-known Delboeuf illusion, where people believe the size of a circle is much smaller when surrounded by a large circle than a small one. Likewise, when serving onto a small plate, the serving size looks relatively larger than it actually is, which leads people to underserve.

"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 ones," the authors conclude.

(EurekAlert, January 2012)

Read more:

Weight loss: the ultimate guide

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

The debate continues »

Working out in the concrete jungle 7 top butt exercises for guys 10 things pole dancing can do for you

The running vs. walking debate

There are many different theories when it comes to the running vs. walking for health and weight loss.

Veganism a crime? »

Running the Comrades Marathon on a vegan diet Are vegans unnatural beasts? Can a vegan be really healthy?

Should it be a crime to raise a baby on vegan food?

After a number of cases of malnourishment in Italy, it may become a crime to feed children under 16 a vegan diet.