Want to Lose Weight? Take a Bite and Wait


ITHACA, N.Y. — If you’re giving in to cravings for chocolate or other snacks, think smaller, take a bite and wait: A new study by Cornell University researchers finds that eating smaller portions of commonly craved foods will satisfy a person just as well as a larger portion.

“This research supports the notion that eating for pleasure – hedonic hunger – is driven more by the availability of foods instead of the food already eaten,” said Brian Wansink, professor of economics and a co-author of the study, “Just a bit satisfies, not magnifies, hunger and craving tendencies for snacks.” Wansink wrote the study with lead author Ellen van Kleef of Wageningen University, The Netherlands; and co-author Mitsuru Shimizu, Cornell post-doctoral researcher. The research will be published in the January issue of the journal “Food, Quality and Preference.”

The study found that, as expected, portion size has a direct impact on calorie intake – but it also discovered that portion size did not have a direct impact on the level of satisfaction of the person eating the snack. Researchers came to these conclusions after testing 104 adults, who were given large and small portions of the same snack. Those who ate large portions consumed 77 percent more calories than those who ate small portions. Yet, despite consuming substantially more calories, hunger pangs of people eating large portions decreased by the same amount as those eating small portions. In both conditions, craving tendencies were significantly decreased 15 minutes after eating.

“So, how much chocolate would you need to eat to be satisfied? Less than half as much as you think,” Wansink said. “If you want to control your weight, here’s the secret: Take a bite and wait. After 15 minutes all you’ll remember – in your head and in your stomach – is that you had a tasty snack.”

For additional information and research about eating habits and perceptions, visit http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/smallsnack.html

Contact Joe Schwartz for information about Cornell's TV and radio studios.


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