Science

Food labels revealing size may affect how much you eat

By Enozia Vakil , Jun 26, 2013 12:34 PM EDT
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Cornell University, in its new study, has explained how food labels that depict size of the servings could affect how much you eat.

Seemingly standard labels could have an impact on how much an individual actually eats, the researchers claim.

A 'small' drink may differ in size along with your fast food joints, but it's the labeling that may impact how much you eat and how much you don't.

Dr Brian Wansink and Dr David Just, researchers from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab served two different portion sizes of lunch foods to the study participants; either 1 cup (small) or 2 cups (large) of spaghetti. In order to study how the portion sizes affected how much the subjects ate, the researchers twisted up the labeling and labeled the small and large servings as 'Half size' and 'Regular' respectively.

For another group of study subjects, they named the small and large servings as 'Regular' and 'Double size' respectively.

How the subjects viewed the 'Regular' portions in comparison to the other portion ( half size or double size), affected how much the subjects actually ate, the researchers explained.

To explore further how labeling impacted how much people would be willing to pay, the researchers arranged for an auction-like setting and had people bid on the same food servings but with different labels. They observed that people were more readily able to pay more for servings labeled 'Regular' than for servings labeled 'Half-size' even though both contained the same portions of food.

The study subjects ate much more when the spaghetti servings were labeled 'Regular' and left 10 times as much food on their plates when the servings were labeled 'Double size.'

This study in particular could prove to be a clear indication of how people consider labels as the sole size factor, and impacted how much they were willing to eat. People are not just willing to pay more for regular sized food servings labeled as 'Double size,' but also would eat the enormous amount of food too.

This study has shed light on how food labels could impact how much an individual eats, and may also affect his weight gain. 

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