Mindless Eating and Healthy Heuristics for the Irrational
6 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2014
Date Written: May 1, 2009
Food choice decisions are not the same as intake volume decisions. The former determine what we eat (soup or salad); the latter determine how much we eat (half of the bowl or all of it). Large amounts of money, time, and intelligence have been invested in understanding the physiological mechanisms that influence food choice (James O. Hill, forthcoming). Much less has been invested in understanding how and why our environment influences food consumption volume. Yet environmental factors (such as package size, plate shape, lighting, variety, or the presence of others) affect our food consumption volume far more than we realize (Wansink 2006). Whereas people can acknowledge that environmental factors influence others, they wrongly believe they are unaffected. Perhaps they are influenced at a basic level of which they are not aware. A better understanding of these drivers of consumption volume will have immediate implications for research, policy, and personal interventions. There are three objectives of his paper: (1) explain why environmental factors may unknowingly influence food consumption; (2) identify resulting myths that may lead to misspecified models or misguided policy recommendations; and (3) offer clear direction for future research, policy, and personal dietary efforts.
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