Mindless Eating: Environmental Contributors to Obesity

Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity, ed. John H. Cawley, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011

38 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016  

Brian Wansink

Cornell University

Date Written: December 9, 2010

Abstract

Everyone — every single one of us — eats how much 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 how much they eat is mainly determined by how hungry they are, how much they like the food, and what mood they are in (Wansink, Payne, and Chandon 2007). 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 (Meiselman 1992; Rozin and Tuorila 1993). This review aims to explain what environmental factors unknowingly influence consumption intake and why they do so.

Keywords: environmental cues, eating behavior, obesity, mindless eating, consumption, food intake

Suggested Citation

Wansink, Brian, Mindless Eating: Environmental Contributors to Obesity (December 9, 2010). Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity, ed. John H. Cawley, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2749264

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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