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Even the Food Experts Get Fooled

During a “wrap party” for 20/20 who shot an episode on food consumption, Brian Wansink (author of Mindless Eating) and other researchers played a trick on the attendants, who were all experts on matters related to food.

At the ice-cream social that was held, the researchers gave out either medium-size or large-size bowls to their unsuspecting guests and were invited to take as much ice cream as they’d like. The size of the scoops varied as well, ranging from medium to large. Considering these were the experts on food and nutrition and even knew of Wansink’s previous food experiments, surely they wouldn’t be affected, right?

“None of that mattered. Those who were given the huge bowls dished out huge amounts. In fact, they dished about 31 percent more – 127 more calories’ worth of ice cream. It only makes things worse if you give them a big scoop. People with a large bowl and a three-ounce scoop dished out 57 percent more ice cream than those given a smaller bowl and a smaller scoop. Big dishes and big spoons are big trouble. As the size of our dishes increases, so does the amount we scoop into them.”

Wansink’s also notes that the size of our dinner plates has increased over the years. When you think of an antique dinner plate from our grandparent’s era, it often resembles something closer to our present-day salad plate.

And guess what? They weren’t as overweight back then either! It might be time to revisit the sizes of plates and glasses in your household. A smaller plate will naturally encourage smaller portions. The same holds true with the size of the glasses you use. While we don’t always think in terms of beverages as part of the problem, if you’re a soda or milk drinker for instance, it needs to be factored in.