Fruit Bowl on Kitchen Counter

Want to Weigh Less? Clear Your Kitchen

New research has shown that what's out on your kitchen sides could be associated with a 20 to 30lbs difference in your weight.

Two studies, looking at how the visibility and ease of access of certain foods, drinks and equipment in the kitchen may influence body weight,  were analysed in the Journal of Health Education & Behaviour.

The findings are not always consistent for both women and men, so we've split down the results:

Overall Findings

  • The having a fruit bowl out on the side was strongly associated with lower BMI for both women and men
  • Packaged food was related to greater BMI among both sexes
  • Normal-weight participants were more likely than obese participants to have fresh fruit
  • Normal weight participants were less likely to have standard fizzy drinks visible
  • Normal weight participants were less likely to buy large-sized packets of food

Findings Related to Women's Weight and BMI

  • Women of normal weight were the most likely to have fruit on the counter
  • Fizzy drinks were much less likely to be observed in normal-weight women’s kitchens than in obese women’s kitchens
  • Normal-weight women were more likely to have a designated cupboard for snack foods
  • Women who kept standard or diet soft drinks on their counters or in other highly visible locations in the kitchen weighed 12 kg more than those who did not.
  • Keeping breakfast cereal on the counter top was associated with extra weight of 9.4 kg in women
  • Having sweets on the counter was associated with almost 10 kg less in women. (The researchers say that women generally show higher dietary restraint and choose healthier snacks)

Findings Related to Men's Weight and BMI

  • The presence of cookies was associated with higher BMI only among men
  • Men who had a toaster on their counter had a higher BMI than those with no toaster
  • Among men, having fresh fruit on the counter was not associated with BMI
  • Normal-weight men were just as likely to have standard fizzy drinks on the counter as obese men
  • Keeping cookies and other sweet bakery products, like cakes, visible was strongly correlated with high BMI but only for men
  • Sweets on the counter were associated with almost 8 kg more in men

The researchers say that the generalizability of the findings is limited due to the somewhat different measures of kitchen characteristics that were used in the two studies.

Nevertheless, the findings of both studies point in the same direction. The body mass index and weight differences are large enough to have practical significance, highlighting the importance of the visibility, proximity and convenience of foods in the home.

Conclusion

Normal-weight people:

  • Surround themselves with fewer eating cues
  • Buy food in smaller packages
  • Store snack foods out of sight in a cupboard or drawer
  • Choose to put generally healthier foods on their kitchen sides

WLR Advice

Adopting these small habits when arranging the food in your kitchen should make you less likely to overeat. This has important implications for people who seek to accurately monitor and control their food intake. 

Food you can see is more likely to be eaten.

Clearing your kitchen sides of all foods and soft drinks except fresh fruit is an easy change to make. It could mean you consume fewer calories and increase your awareness of your eating habits, and help you lose weight.

Find Out How Much You Eat

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Reference

Slim by Design, Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity: Brian Wansink, PhD, Cornell University; Andrew S. Hanks, PhD, The Ohio State University; Kirsikka Kaipainen, PhD, Technical Research Centre of Finland. Published in the journal, Health Education & Behaviour

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