At a social gathering of 85 faculty members, graduate students and staff workers in the department of food science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the partygoers served themselves ice cream. They did not realize that they were also the subjects of an experiment. Half the participants were given 17-ounce bowls, and half 34-ounce bowls. In addition, half were given 2-ounce spoons to scoop out their ice cream, and half were given 3-ounce serving spoons.
With larger spoons, people served themselves 14.5 percent more, and with a larger bowl, they heaped on 31 percent more. With both a large spoon and a large bowl, the nutrition experts helped themselves to 56.8 percent more ice cream than those who used the smaller utensils. And all but three of them ate every bit of the ice cream they took.
People who used small spoons took more spoonfuls, but not nearly enough to compensate for the total amount taken by those with larger equipment.
The results of the experiment will appear in the September issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“There are two choices here,” said Brian Wansink, the lead author of the study and the director of the Food and Brand Laboratory at Cornell. “Either you perpetually remind yourself that a large bowl might make you take more food than is good for you, or — a much better solution — you simply use smaller dishes and utensils to begin with.
“Re-engineering your home environment makes a lot more sense, and it’s much easier to do.”By Nicholos Bakalar