Red Potato Chips: Segmentation Cues Can Substantially Decrease Food Intake
Geier Andrew, Brian Wansink, and Paul Rozin (2012), “Red Potato Chips: Segmentation Cues Can Substantially Decrease Food Intake,” Health Psychology, 31:3 (May), 398-401.
14 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2016 Last revised: 27 Apr 2017
Date Written: May 2, 2011
Objective: To discover a scalable method of food packaging presentation, that can help reduce per occasion food consumption by making portions sizes more salient and segmented.
Design: Two studies of American undergraduates who ate from tubes of potato chips while watching a movie. In each study, participants ate chips that were either identical (the control group) or which had colored chips inserted at regular intervals (the treatment groups). One treatment group had a distinctively different (reddish) chip present at every seventh (Study 1) or fifth (Study 2) chip, and the second treatment group had one present every fourteenth (Study 1) or tenth (Study 2) chip. Measures were the number of chips consumed and (in Study 1) the participants estimates of how many they believed they consumed.
Results: In both studies, chip consumption was reduced by more than 50% averaging across the two segmentation intervals, with no significant difference between the two intervals. Estimates of amount consumed were much more accurate when there was segmentation.
Conclusion: Segmenting a package effectively reduced consumption in the settings we have explored. Segmentation cues may operate by any or all of three mechanisms: 1) it calls attention to and encourages better monitoring of eating; 2) it suggests smaller consumption (portion size) norms, or 3) it breaks automated eating sequences by introducing a pause. There is some evidence from the first study that provides evidence for the first, monitoring account.
Keywords: obesity, food intake, environment, segmentation, food consumption
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