Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake

Wansink, Brian, James E. Painter, and Jill North. "Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake." Obesity Research 13.1 (2005): 93-100.

8 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2014

See all articles by Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink

Cornell University

James Painter

Eastern Illinois University

Jill North

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: January 2005

Abstract

Objective: Using self-refilling soup bowls, this study examined whether visual cues related to portion size can influence intake volume without altering either estimated intake or satiation.

Research Methods and Procedures: Fifty-four participants (BMI, 17.3 to 36.0 kg/m2; 18 to 46 years of age) were recruited to participate in a study involving soup. The experiment was a between-subject design with two visibility levels: 1) an accurate visual cue of a food portion (normal bowl) vs. 2) a biased visual cue (self-refilling bowl). The soup apparatus was housed in a modified restaurant-style table in which two of four bowls slowly and imperceptibly refilled as their contents were consumed. Outcomes included intake volume, intake estimation, consumption monitoring, and satiety.

Results: Participants who were unknowingly eating from self-refilling bowls ate more soup [14.7  8.4 vs. 8.5  6.1 oz; F(1,52)  8.99; p  0.01] than those eating from normal soup bowls. However, despite consuming 73% more, they did not believe they had consumed more, nor did they perceive themselves as more sated than those eating from normal bowls. This was unaffected by BMI.

Discussion: These findings are consistent with the notion that the amount of food on a plate or bowl increases intake because it influences consumption norms and expectations and it lessens one’s reliance on self-monitoring. It seems that people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs. The importance of having salient, accurate visual cues can play an important role in the prevention of unintentional overeating.

Keywords: portion size, consumption norms, food intake, consumption volume, external cues

Suggested Citation

Wansink, Brian and Painter, James and North, Jill, Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake (January 2005). Wansink, Brian, James E. Painter, and Jill North. "Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake." Obesity Research 13.1 (2005): 93-100.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2474705

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

James Painter

Eastern Illinois University ( email )

Charleston, IL 61920-3099
United States
217-581-6677 (Phone)
217-581-6090 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://castle.eiu.edu/~jpainter/

Jill North

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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