In a 2006 study by Mindless Eating author Brian Wansink (of Cornell University’s Department of Applied Economics and Management), office workers ate an average of 7.7 Hershey’s kisses a day if they were in clear jars on their desks, and 3.1 a day if placed six feet away from their desks in opaque jars.
That's actually a 110 calorie difference!
More importantly, though, this points to a key factor in human eating behavior -- if something is within reach, we are very likely to eat it, even if from a physiological standpoint we are not hungry.
This is partially why large portions of food at restaurants and movie theaters are such a problem -- it is NOT easy to leave half our food on the table or tell ourselves to "stop" after finishing half of a medium-sized popcorn bucket.
In Mindless Eating, Wansink recounts several experiments he and his team at Cornell University's Department of Applied Economics and Management conducted in which caloric consumption increased simply when more food was available to participants.
One famous study had a control group drinking soup from a regular bowl, and another group from a bowl that inconspicuously refilled itself in a continual fashion.
The results? Those drinking from the “bottomless” bowl not only downed 65 percent more calories than the control group, they also did not report feeling full for much longer than those who had a limited quantity of soup.
In other words, they unknowingly consumed extra calories.
Wansink also experimented with movie theater popcorn. Subjects who later remarked the popcorn tasted bad and stale still ate more if they were eating from larger containers. Oh, by the way, the popcorn tasted so bad because it was two weeks old!
Weight management isn't just about your mouth and stomach -- make sure your eyes aren't playing tricks on you!