Hidden Persuaders: Environmental Contributors to Obesity
Textbook of Obesity Biological, Psychological, and Cultural Influences, First Edition, eds. Sharon R. Akabas, Sally Ann Lederman, and Barbara J. Moore, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 108-122, 2011
36 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016
Date Written: April 8, 2010
Everyone — every single one of us — eats the amount we eat partially because of what is around us. We overeat not only because of hunger, but also because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers. This list is almost as endless as it is invisible to us.
Most of us are largely unaware of what influences how much we eat. This is one of the ironies of food consumption research. Dozens of studies involving thousands of people show that people wrongly think that what they eat is mainly determined by how hungry they are, how much they like the food, and what mood they are in. We all think we are too smart to be tricked by packages, lighting, or plates. This suggests that people may be influenced at a basic level of which they are not aware or which they do not monitor. Understanding these drivers of consumption volume has immediate implications for research, nutrition education, and consumer welfare. This review aims to explain what environmental factors unknowingly influence eating and why they do so.
Keywords: obesity, environmental cues, food consumption, mindless eating
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