[AUDIENCE CHATTER] CHARLES JERMY: Good evening and welcome to the fourth of the summer series. My name is Charles Jermy, and I'm the associate dean in the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions.
Brian Wansink is the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell, where he also directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, an interdisciplinary group of graduate and undergraduate students from psychology, food science, marketing, economics, human nutrition, education, history, and communication, along with a number of affiliated faculty members. The lab's primary mission is to investigate the psychology behind what we eat and how often we eat, in order to help us eat more nutritiously and control the quantities we eat.
He was also the co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics and Child Nutrition programs, a center that helps researchers, food science directors, and policy makers design sustainable research-based lunchrooms to guide children to make better food choices. I actually changed that from the way he had written it, because it sounded like we were manipulating all these children.
Brian is the author of more than 100 academic articles and six books, including the bestselling Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think and the soon-to-be-published Slim by Design, Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. From 2007 to 2009, Brian, while on leave from Cornell, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as executive director for the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which develops and disseminates dietary guidelines linking scientific research to the nutritional needs of Americans.
Brian's research on food psychology and behavior changes has been published in the world's leading marketing, medical, and nutrition journals, and the results have been widely featured on 20/20, the BBC News, the Learning Channel, all news networks, and the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His research has focused on how ads, packaging, and personality traits influence the usage frequency and usage volume of healthy foods.
His research on consumption volume has won national and international awards for its relevance to consumers. And it has contributed to the introduction of smaller 100-calorie packages to prevent overeating, the use of taller glasses in bars to prevent the over pouring of alcohol, the use of elaborate names and mouth-watering descriptions in chain restaurant menus to improve the enjoyment of the food, and the removal of 500 million calories from restaurant selections each year via Unilever's Seductive Nutrition program.
His insights have been translated and presented in television documentaries on every continent except Antarctica. Brian holds a PhD degree in marketing from Stanford University. He, his wife, and his three daughters attend drive-in movies as frequently as possible. He is a saxophone player in a jazz quartet and also in a rhythm and blues dance band. And he regularly enjoys both French food and French fries.
"Slim by Design, From Mindless Eating to Mindless Eating Better," Brian Wansink.
BRIAN WANSINK: Thank you, so much. I really appreciate that. And I appreciate you folks taking your time to come out tonight. Now, I've got three objectives tonight. First, being a professor, I want you to learn a really, really lot. Second, being very practical, I want you to find at least three little changes you want to make when you get home tonight or tomorrow morning. And third, being a fun-loving guy, I hope you enjoy yourself.
Let's take a look here. If we could get the first slide, please, David?
Well, who has never, ever, ever seen these charts about how fat we are, state by state? You've almost-- it's crazy. These things have been around for a long time. Because what they show-- they're color codings of how we're fat, state by state. And you can see when they go from 1991, '93, '97, or 2003-- they have to start adding new colors, because states are getting heavier, and heavier, and heavier.
So I have the incredible blessing of working with some amazing people in my food and brand lab. We wanted to look at what would happen if things continued at this rate to the year 2025. Are you ready for this? You gotta look closely.
OK. That is still only made up, OK? But here is an agenda of what we're going to be doing today. I'm going to start off by talking about a couple principles of things that really mess us up-- mainly the fact, we don't know what we like, and we don't know why we do what we do. But then I'm going to show the incredible benefit of those principles and other principles being so operative in our life. Because what they will allow us to do is to make changes in all the different places, or zones, in our life that cause us to overeat.
The fact that we don't really know what we like, and the fact that we don't really know why we do what we do, can enable us to make changes in our home that help us eat better, in restaurants, in schools, in workplaces, in grocery stores. What I'll focus on today, though, is primarily how these principles can be used in schools to get our little gooblets to eat better, and how we can use some of these principles in our own homes to mindlessly eat a whole lot better.
And then, after that, well-- how many people have been in Bailey Hall before? Man. I mean, I have been here 10 years, and I have never been to this place. It is so amazing. But I was talking to one of the guys in my lab, and he said that he's seen the "Police" here. I mean, the band "Police." (FUNNY VOICE) Hey, I was smoking in the back and they showed up. They've seen the Police here, they've seen Bruce Springsteen, George Thorogood,. And so, I was thinking, that at the end of the night, we have some time for questions and answers. If you don't have any Q&As, you can ask for requests for me to sing.
No actually that reminds me. Dr. Jermy was talking about, when he's was saying the introduction, that I had worked for the US Department of Agriculture. And I'd been in charge of the dietary guidelines, which is a political appointment. So it's a White House Presidential appointment. And, when you do these things, there's a lot of people watching what you do, because they want to see you screw up.
So I would have people take pictures of me eating at Taco Bell and tweet them. I'd have things like this. But one night-- one night, my wife said-- what all wives say-- "Why don't we do anything-- why don't we ever do anything fun?" So. But we did. We went out to karaoke that night. I think just had two girls, at the time, so we went to karaoke that night. And I think she convinced me to sing some song. I think it was the song, "Wild Nights," by Van Morrison. Anybody know that song? (SINGING) Wild nights are calling.
So I'm doing this karaoke thing with my daughters on stage. And the next Tuesday-- I'm sorry-- the next Monday, I get called into the Secretary of Agriculture's office, because he was my boss. And I walk in, and the senior advisor, who was usually a really nice guy, wasn't smiling that much.
And he said, "Have a seat." And I sat down. He says, "Oh, so you have a good weekend?" I go, "Yeah." He goes, "Sing a little karaoke?" I go, "Yeah! How did you know?" He goes, "It was on YouTube." He said, "You know, being a political appointee, there's a lot of people out there who want to embarrass you. Try not to make it easy for them."
So here's what the lab is. Our mission is to discover and disseminate transforming solutions to eating behavior. And I'm fortunate to work with a bunch of people. And I have some interns that I think are here tonight, summer interns. If the summer interns are here, can you stand up? Any that are here? Stand, stand, stand, stand. Yay. Good to have you here.
But this is our mission to do this. And a while back, we got a funny call from the LA Times. And what the LA Times said was-- the woman who called me said-- you know, a year ago, the LA Unified School District decided to make it easy for kids to eat healthy in schools. So they got rid of all the chocolate milk. They got rid of cookies. They got rid of cheeseburgers. They basically got rid of everything except for, like, kale and escarole.
And she says, it's been a year, and they've evaluated the findings. And guess what happened. And I said, "People stopped eating there." And she goes, how did you know? And I think it goes back to the idea that, if we don't know why people do what they do, it's really easy to come up with the wrong solutions.
So let's take a look at this. A couple starting points-- do we know what we like? Well, the short answer's, no. Do we know why we do what we do? Well, again, the sort of answer is going to be, no.
So, do we know what we like? A while back, this gentleman-- this is a few years ago-- he was in charge of a large set of cafeterias. And these cafeterias sold basically very healthy food, like cake that was made with applesauce instead of mayonnaise or baked things versus fried things. But the problem was nobody went there.
And so he said, what do you think we can do to get people to eat this food? Well, what we know is that taste is tremendously subjective. Meaning, that if you are having an appetizer with a friend at dinner, and they say, wow, this appetizer is really, really amazing, you're going to taste it and you're going to go, yeah, it is. It's going to bias you to look for the amazing things about the appetizer.
But if that person, instead, says, wow, I think something's wrong with it. Is it too much salt? What is it? You're going to taste it, looking for what's wrong with it. We're tremendously suggestible.
And, knowing that, we said, well, why don't we try this? We'll take six items, and we'll put them on the menu with just their normal name-- like "Seafood Filet." And then we'll take them off for a couple weeks, and then put them back on with a descriptive, enticing name-- like "Succulent Italian Seafood Filet."
Now, still, this is just-- a dried out fish stick. OK? Just basically it will be the same dried out fish stick that was on two weeks ago. But now, all of a sudden, people think it tastes better. They rate it as better. They rate the cafeteria as more trendy and up to date, and they even rate the chef as having had more culinary training. Now this is a guy who'd been, like, fired from Arby's two months ago. So you know what I'm saying.
And the thing was, it didn't matter how silly or extreme these names got, if people saw a descriptive name, it increased the likelihood of buying something by about 28%. I mean, we even named this bad sheet cake. It went from "Chocolate Cake" to "Belgian Black Forest Double Chocolate Cake." Now it doesn't matter that the Black Forest isn't in Belgium.
Why should that be a deal? People are going, I love it! It reminds me of Antwerp! We're like, what? Antwerp train station? I don't know.
But we found that this almost has no limits. So we have a research restaurant called the Spice Box. And what it is it's a pre-fixed restaurant that's open only Thursday night, and what we did one week is we ordered all these boxes of Charles Shaw wine. It's bottles of wine. They're about $2 apiece. They used to call them-- yeah, "Two-Buck Chuck," right.
We took this wine, we soaked off all the labels. We put on new labels that said it was either a Cabernet from California-- a place known for wine-- or it was a Cabernet from North Dakota-- a place not known for wine. And so what happened was, when people came to the dinner-- it's like about a $25 pre-fixed dinner-- they sat down, and the waiter or waitress came up to them and said, "Hey, thanks for keeping your reservation on this snowy night. As a thank-you note, we've got a complimentary glass of wine. It's a Cabernet from California." Poured everybody a glass and put that bottle right in the middle of the table.
But, for the other half of the people dining there, they did something a little bit different. They instead said, "Thank you for keeping your reservation tonight. You've gotten a complimentary bottle of a new Cabernet that's new from North Dakota." Poured the glass, set it right in the middle of the table with that North Dakota label just staring at you.
Now, you guys drinking the California wine-- even those these are the exact same wines-- you thought the wine was better. You thought the meal was better. You stayed longer and a little bit more. And, when you were asked if you wanted to make reservations to come back, a bunch of you did.
The people, who instead thought they'd drank North Dakota wine, didn't have such a magical evening. You pretty much left as soon as you could. You didn't like the wine. You didn't like the meal. And, when we asked you if you wanted to make reservations to come back, most of you said, no. And one guy even said, no no. He said, I'm really busy-- [LAUGHTER] for the rest of my life.
We are tremendously, subjectively influenced by the things around us when it comes to our taste. Now, the extremes-- that doesn't matter. I mean, an incredible, gooey, hot fudge sundae we're all going to love, regardless of what's going on around us. And, you know, if something really terrible over here-- like a thousand-year-old egg, or something like that-- most of us are going to hate over there. But the stuff in the middle, that's where we're very suggestible.
Now, I know you'd say, [SCOFF] you know, I can see where this would work for people who've been drinking all night. But I can't see where it influences me. Let's take a look at this.
- Rainforest Smoothie.
-It's unbelievable how suggestible our taste is.
I'm Brian Wansink.
-To demonstrate that, Wansink tricked some of our own staff, seven of 20/20's college interns. First, he added some chocolate sauce to vanilla yogurt. Then, he told the students--
-We're going to be doing a little strawberry yogurt taste test.
-On the table, he had some strawberry yogurt containers.
-So if you could put your blindfolds on--
-The students put on blindfolds, tasted the yogurt, and then Wansink asked them to compare the strawberry tastes.
-I think they both tasted really strong with strawberry.
-All the students were certain they were eating strawberry yogurt.
-This one had a much stronger strawberry taste to it.
-It just tasted more like strawberry.
-With this woman, Wansink tried something different.
-We're going to be tasting a couple of different kinds of yogurts today.
-He didn't tell her what flavor it was. So, when he asked her to rate the strawberry taste--
-Honestly, I didn't notice it's strawberry.
-And yet, by the time I interviewed the group, she, too, had accepted the idea that she'd eaten strawberry.
-When you, like, follow up with a question like, which one is more strawberry, I was like, I had to choose one.
-They all believed it was strawberry. Actually, none of them was strawberry. It was vanilla yogurt with chocolate sauce.
-That can't be.
-What do you mean, it can't be?
-Well, I thought I tasted strawberry. I guess, also, when I opened my eyes, the two yogurts in front had a strawberry on the box.
-I think you're joshing us, right now. I do. Because I feel like there was definitely a taste of strawberry.
-No, it was vanilla yogurt with chocolate sauce.
-But you thought it was strawberry. Why?
-It tasted like strawberry. I swear it did.
-The moral to these stories, says Wansink, is that we are much less taste-sensitive than we think we are.
-We don't want to really believe that we are duped or fooled by something as simple as the--
BRIAN WANSINK: You know, there's good news there. There's good news, not just for school lunch programs, but there's also good news there for us as cooks. So if what ends up biasing whether somebody-- for instance-- likes our dinner party food is the cues around us, then we don't really have to be as good of a cook as we think we need to be. [LAUGHTER]
Just make sure you have the nice lighting, the nice plates-- not the paper plates-- some nice music, and that you name the food.
So it's interesting-- this is a while back-- there was a guy from a magazine called, The New Scientist, and his name was Graham. And he came out, and he was doing this big Christmas article, which was titled something like, "How to Make Your In-laws Think You're a Better Cook Than You Are." And he filmed a bunch of this sort of stuff and wrote about it. And, at the end of his two or three days here, he said, "You know, I think I really knew all of this all along." Which is, as an academic, you hate that-- when somebody says, your research is obvious.
Because he says, "I think I knew this all along." He says, "Because, you know, I'm a pretty good cook. But," he said, "nobody ever compliments me on my cooking. I have dinner parties all the time, and nobody says a thing." And he said, "But a while back, I did something different. Instead of doing what I usually do, which is prepare all the food ahead of time, and then have some wine in the living room, and at the last minute say, OK, let's eat."
He changed his plan. He still cooked all the food ahead of time. But about 15 minutes before he took everybody to the dining room to eat, he would excuse himself, take his wine into the kitchen, kind of lean-- [LAUGHING] lean up against the counter, take a spoon, beat on some pans-- [LAUGHING]
And about 15 minutes later, he'd say, OK. Dinner's ready. Ant that was the same dinner he was making before, but people said, hm, he's in the kitchen and he sounds really busy. I think this is going to be good. What do you think? He said, after that people complimented him all the time.
The second thing we want to look at is, do we know why we do what we do? And the short answer is, no. Now if you look at something like Chinese buffets, if you think back to the last buffet lunch you went to, or if you think of the last time you were at a buffet. There's a lot of people who say you cannot go up to buffets and eat without overeating.
Now, in fact, there's even some recent legislation in this city to try to zone buffets out of the city. You know, you have to be in the outskirts of town, like with a casino and other places. But if you look at it, the last time you've been to a buffet, at least a third of the people there were incredibly skinny. Some might be heavy, but a bunch of them are skinny.
So what is it that skinny people do differently at Chinese buffets that the rest of the world doesn't? Because, I mean, if we knew this, it might have some sort of secret solution that everybody else could use. Well, here's what you can't do. You can't ask a skinny person what they do at a buffet that's different than a heavier person. Because they'll go, I don't know. Or they'll say, maybe I eat less, but I don't know.
But here's what you can do is you can watch what they do and see how it's different. So here's what we did. We took 12 coders in our lab, a few years ago-- a couple years ago-- we watched 379 diners at Chinese restaurants across the country. And we coded 70 different things. We coded when they came in, and when they went out, how many times they went for seconds, and thirds, and fourths, how many chews they made per mouthful of food, where they sat.
And it's amazing. Then we used these secret agent tools. Like, we had this weight mat, where, when they walked in the buffet, you step on it and--
--it flashes your weight. I mean, not to them, but to us. That would be a deterrent, wouldn't it? [LAUGHING]
We has these little laser things that sort of measured their height with their shoes on and all sorts of cool things. Clickers-- we had these Cracker Jack stop watches that never stopped, but whatever.
And what do you think we found, in terms of skinny people? What do you think skinny people do differently than heavy people? Does anybody want to throw a guess out? Yeah.
AUDIENCE: They eat slower.
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. They eat slower. One thing we found is the typical heavy person chewed about 12 bites per mouthful, regardless of what it was, on average. The typical skinny person chewed about 15 bites per mouthful. What else do you think they might have done?
AUDIENCE: Drink soup first?
Well, they drink soup, first. That's it. There's something else they did first. And you're right on track. What they did was-- the typical skinny person, after they're seated, they get up, and they walk to the buffet, and what do they do? About 73% walk around, look at the foods, wow, 57 chicken dishes. Then they pick up a plate, and then they serve themselves.
In contrast, about 77% of all heavy people do just the opposite. They walk up to the plates, pick up a plate, and then say, hm, do I want that? No. Do want that? Eh, I'll try it. Do I want that? Mm, doesn't look that bad.
Ans so, as a result, you have the skinny people kind of swooping in and cherry-picking the things they really want. And heavy people taking a little bit of everything.
What do you think something else is that they do? Anybody? Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Drink a lot of water.
BRIAN WANSINK: I'm sorry?
AUDIENCE: Drink a lot of water.
BRIAN WANSINK: They do drink more water. They're more likely to use chopsticks. They're more likely to use smaller plates than bigger plates. But the crazy thing is, also, they tend to sit, on average, about 16 feet farther away from the buffet than the heavy people. And, even crazier, they are three times as likely to face away from the food. Whereas the heavy people sit-- most of the heavy people, about 80%-- will sit facing the food, a lot of the skinny people face with their back or their side to the food.
Now, if you look at this, here's our thin diner. She's 16 feet farther away, three times faced away from it. She's more likely to sit in a booth, have a napkin in her lap, use a small plate and chopsticks.
Here's our heavier guy. [LAUGHTER]
I think the artist went a little overboard here. Put him at the buffet, facing the buffet, and so forth. Now this is great news if you're a diner, because you say, you know, I don't know the causality of this, but, if I want to be a skinny person, maybe I act like one. Maybe I should sit in that booth next to the window. Maybe I should try to use a smaller plate or try to use chopsticks. I cramp my hand, but I'll try. Maybe I should scout things out before I just pick up a plate and diving in.
But who else would be very interested in this information?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. The buffet owners. Yeah. One of the things we found is, when this study first came out, this guy called, and he said, my dad owns some Chinese restaurants in central Pennsylvania. And we were wondering, do you think we can use some of these techniques and tricks to get people to eat less food?
Now, they don't care if you're healthy or not. They care about wasting less food. They care about making more food and still charging you $7 for the buffet. We said, yeah. I mean, this sounds like a great win-win strategy. You get people to eat less. They ate less, you make more.
So helped them with some things. It was kind of interesting. We came up with five changes. One was that the hostess, as soon as you came in, would take people and first seat them as far away from the buffet as possible-- not even give them a choice. Seat them as far away, then, as those tables filled up, they would get closer.
Second, they gave them chopsticks, and they gave them smaller plates-- about nine-inch plates. And the fourth and fifth thing they did was set the plates in back of the buffet, so that the people had to walk up and [DEEP BREATH] trudge around the food to pick up their plate and, at least, see half of the food in the buffet.
And then the last thing was they put up, like, those Chinese folding screens and some plants to kind of block the food, so that you couldn't sit there and go--
So when I said that the guy said his dad owned some Chinese restaurants in central Pennsylvania, how many-- what was the number you were picturing in your mind?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah, six. I was thinking, like, four, something like that. So the guy comes in and visits about four months later, and he drove up and visited the lab. And he said, oh, my god, things are going great. Da-da-da-da. And he said, but, man, he says, it's really, really difficult to make those changes.
And I'm like, well, I mean, these are like five changes where you have four places. I mean, you could have made these over the weekend. I didn't say that to him. But I just said, "Oh, why was it difficult?" And he goes, oh, my dad has 63 buffets. And I thought, whoa. That's a lot of ca-chings.
Well, but the thing is, people aren't even aware of this when it happens. So there might be a lot we can do here in school cafeterias to guide kids to taking the apples instead of the cookies, and thinking the apple tastes a lot better than they might otherwise do. So let's look at schools for a second.
We started this Smarter Lunchroom movement a while back. And this is really cool. It's in over 20,000 schools now, and we're really happy about it. But it started with a call from New York State Department of Health. They called, and they said, how much do we need to subsidize fruit in cafeterias for kids to eat 5% more apples, pears, bananas, whatever? OK?
Well, here's a typical school lunchroom. That fruit is in a nasty chafer pan, underneath the sneeze shield, in the back part of the cafeteria. I mean, you can make it free, and kids aren't going to take any more.
So here's what we said. We said, two suggestions-- put in a nice bowl, and put it in a well-lit place on the line. Five schools did that, and sales didn't go up 5%. They went up 103%, and it stayed there for three months.
Two schools said, no, it's never going to work. Their sales went up 0%. And one school said, you know, I think we did it wrong. It's like, how do you do that wrong? They say that, well, you know, what happened was, we put it in a nice bowl, and then we just got like a desk lamp out of the closet, put it next to the fruit, turned it on.
And I said, oh, and how did that work for you? And she goes, sales went up 187%.
So now we say, put it in a nice bowl next to a desk lamp.
An example, too, and this was a call from the USDA. And they said, look, nobody buys salad, but two-thirds of all high schools have salad bars. What do we get to get people to buy more salad? Now, before people were here, I met a woman, Elaine, who's from Cortland and teaches in Cortland. This happened in Cortland.
So we went down, and we worked with some of the schools down in Cortland. And one of the things we looked at is how do you increase salad bar sales? Well, this is Cortland Free Academy-- um, not Cortland, Corning-- sorry about that. This is Corning Free Academy.
And here's what you have. You come in the upper-right-hand door. The a la carte items are in back. The hot lunch line is over there. There's two cash registers. And there's this salad bar that looks like a mulch table. It's, like, composting. Every day it's getting worse, you know? Until the end of the school year in which they clean it out.
So here's what happens when kids, in a typical day of class-- a kid gets up, gets his pizza, walks out, goes to the cash register. Now, changing the price of salad is probably not going to do anything. Because people are still going to ignore it.
So what we recommended was taking that salad bar, moving it 10 feet, turning it sideways, right in front of the cash registers.
So what happens, when the kid get his pizza for the 150th time that school year, he's walking up, he's got his hat on, bam! He hits that salad bar. (PUZZLED VOICE) Whoa, whoa.
You know, he commits one direction or the other to go around it and gets his lunch. But after about two weeks-- after two weeks of bumping into it, he starts kind of going, huh, there's something that looks pretty good. What we found is, within two weeks, daily salad sales increased 200% to 300% by doing nothing-- simply moving the salad bar. There was no price change. There was no subsidy or anything like that.
Well, this led us to the question that maybe, if these two things have such a huge influence on what kids get, maybe there's a bunch of other changes that we could string together that schools could make to get kids to-- to nudge kids-- to pick up the apple instead of the cookie. All the while, keeping the kind of enticing foods there, so they eat there in the first place, and not just leave kale and tofu-- because we know that happens when that happens.
OK, so what can be done to increase the good stuff, decrease the bad stuff, increase overall participation? So let's redesign the school lunchroom for less than $50 bucks. So one of the ways we went about doing that is, we know that, the very first thing people see in line, they're 11% more likely to take than the third thing. Well, so have the healthiest stuff first.
We know that when people see a sign that has a descriptive word, like "Power Peas," that they're about 28% more likely to take the "Power Peas" than if they just say, (IN A NASAL VOICE) "Peas."
We know all these different things. And so we were able to come up with more, and more, and more suggestions that worked in research that we could take to school cafeterias. You know, but the crazy thing about this was that these suggestions were pretty basic, and they're so robust, that it doesn't matter-- it doesn't matter how poorly they're implemented, they still continue to work-- just like the desk lamp.
I mean, here's an example. Um. [LAUGHTER]
We have "Hearty Vagetible Soup," "Clam Chowder," "Hamburger," "Large Hot Dog," "Grill Chicken Roll." It doesn't matter how bad these things are, they still tend to work. Let me give you an example. Here's something that MTV filmed, here, at Boynton Junior High.
-The masterminds behind the cafeteria redesign are Cornell University professors David Just and Brian Wansink. I wanted to know how they're going to basically trick teens into eating right.
So what are we doing here?
-The first thing we're going to do is we're going to take a bunch of the milk, put it in front, so if a person's thirsty, at least they have the option of picking something up. And at least they have to reach over the white milk if they want to pick up---
- --a flavored sugared beverage.
-Step two. They took the pizza, which was the first thing in the lunch line, and moved it towards the back. And the veggies and the healthy bean burrito moved right to the front.
Step 3. They renamed the healthy food.
-We find that changing something as small as calling these mixed vegetables, "California Blend," or the "Big Bad Bean Burritos," increased sales by about 27%.
-Step 4. They moved the fruit from a plastic tub into a pretty fruit bowl. And, finally, they took the cookies and put them just out of reach.
-They're going to have to ask one of the food service workers to help pick it up. We think that's just enough of a barrier to keep some percentage of kids from saying, ah, whatever. I'll have an orange.
-The professors rolled up their sleeves, made their changes, and now it's lunch time.
-Oh, there she's getting her tray. She grabbed a sandwich. She's getting an Arizona Iced Tea, I think, an orange juice, oh, and she got the cookie. So, Samantha, this time you didn't get the cookie, and you got a piece of fruit, instead. Why did you get the fruit, this time? Why do you think?
-I don't know.
-Now this was an unbelievable success. Fruit increased by 102%, simply by putting it in a nice bowl.
-The sweet drinks were also harder to get to. And Jane, Marcy, Richie, and Lavonte fell right into our trap. Last time, they grabbed Gatorade, Snapple, and Arizona Iced Tea, but this time--
-Well, the water was just in front, so I just grabbed it. Sales of sugary drinks plunged by 17%, well purchases of easy-to-reach milk soared 46%.
-Whatever was easiest to reach, that was good enough for them. And that was enough to get them to change.
-Another hit-- the "Big Bad Bean Burrito" sold out for the first time ever. The professors say, on average, students' plates, this time around, contained about 18% fewer calories, and they made healthier choices.
BRIAN WANSINK: So what we've done is, we've come up with 100 changes that our research suggests will make the biggest difference in changing what kids eat. We came up with this really cool scorecard that's been really used widely across the US. In fact, there's an app coming out. See, I can't figure the computer out, but, you know, I can develop an app. No, actually somebody else is doing it. That's coming out in a month.
But our goal is, we call it, "70-70 by 2020." We want 70% of all the schools in the United States to get a score of 70 or higher on the scorecard by the year 2020. And it's aspirational. It shows progress. School food service directors love to do it.
But the thing looks pretty much like this. It'll take different areas-- like focusing on fruit, vegetables, milk-- and it'll say, OK, if you have white milk in the front of your cabinet, of your milk cooler, you get a point. If you have white milk in more than one location, you get another point. If at least half of your milk is white, you get a third point.
So it's very easy to see what to do, to go from a 30 to a 45, or from a 50 to a 65. Well, this has worked really well. And one of the things that we find that is happening is, one of the big champions of this ended up not being food service directors, not being helicopter parents, but they end up being the students themselves who love to grade the cafeteria. So it's working really nice.
What I want to talk about a little bit is, I'm going to scratch the surface on things that can be done in homes. Now, a while back, we've been doing a lot when Mindless Eating came out, it had about 163 different things we'd found in research that worked to get people to be a little bit better. We wondered-- which of these might work best with the general population? Some work better with this type of person. Some work better with that type of person.
So we took 20 tips that were kind of interested in, and we had 2,000 people we assigned a tip to-- different tips to 100 groups of 100 people. And we tracked them for three months. Now, some tips did a little bit better than others. But what we found that was so crazy, was, on average-- these weren't dieters-- on average, people were losing about a pound and a half to two pounds a month.
But was crazy was that it wasn't what you'd expect. Like, if you change something-- like, let's say, for instance, you pre-plated or served all of your entrees and starches off the stove or off a counter, instead of having them sit right in front of you. If you did something like that, you'd expect a pattern like, which would be, people would lose two pounds the first month, two pounds the second month, and then two pounds the third month. It should be pretty steady.
But that's not what we saw. Instead, the most common pattern was people would lose one pound the first month, two pounds the second month, and three pounds the third month. Now that didn't make any sense. And I think, in the lab, we brought this up about five or six different times. We re-ran data. And then, I think we just finally said, well, let's drop it for now. Something must be going on.
And then, at that time, I also went down to the USDA. One of the things I found, though, when was at the USDA, was, after actually about a month there, I was giving a talk in Denver. And after the talk, there was a really nice reception afterwards. And this woman, who was a dietitian, came up and said, oh, man, you know, about 11 months ago, my husband and I made this one change, and it make this big difference in our life. She said, we never sit down to eat a lunch or dinner unless there's both a fruit and vegetable on the table.
Now we don't have to eat it, it just has to be on the table. I mean, it could be a banana from September. Because that counts. And you can think of a bunch of reasons why this would help somebody eat better. But, she said, my husband lost 45 pounds, and I lost 32 pounds in less than a year. And I go, wow, that's really great. I said, why did your husband lose so much more, do you think?
And she goes, oh, well, you know, after a couple weeks-- I mean, after a couple of months, he was encouraged by the progress he was making by not really trying very hard, that he started adding other things. And I said, like what? And she goes, well, instead of drinking beer, he started drinking red wine.
And I'm like, why would that make a difference? And she goes, oh, he doesn't like red wine.
So, yeah. And so at that time the USDA Secretary of Agriculture was the former governor from North Dakota. And he said, I'd like you to go to North Dakota and give a bunch of these series of talks. And so I was doing that. I was in Grand Forks-- not far from where were my grandmother was born. And I was giving a talk. It was a little bit late at night.
And I kind of finished up, and I was talking with my host. But the whole time during the talk, there was this guy-- this guy, I mean, he told me I could use his picture-- who was up in the balcony with his coat closed, like this, the whole time, staring at me. And at end of the talk-- I'm kind of getting things put together-- he comes down out of the balcony. He walks up with his coat still closed, and he goes, (GRAVELY VOICE) I've been waiting all night to show you something.
And I thought, oh, let it be a gun. And he opens his coat and he goes, look at this sweater I'm wearing. He goes, seven months ago, it was skin tight. And he said he lost 34 pounds in seven months, and the only change you made was he ate cottage cheese after work every night.
And I said, well, how did that help? And he goes, well, I used to get home from work, and we'd eat at 6 o'clock, then we'd watch TV, and, oh, about 9:00 or 10:00 we'd get hungry, so we'd have ice cream. Now, I eat cottage cheese when I get home. We don't need until 7:30. At 9:00 or 10:00, I'm not hungry at all.
And I said, wow, that's really cool. But, I said, gee, it's hard to believe you could lose 5 pounds a month just not by eating ice cream. And he goes, yeah, well, you know, what happened was that, after a couple months or so, we just dropped desserts all together. We only eat them on weekends.
AUDIENCE: (GROANING) Oh.
BRIAN WANSINK: And so--
So. This is the power of these ripple changes. This is the power of making one change that ends up being so consistent through your life that you go, oh. And you start making or tweaking other changes. And this ripple effect is really powerful, but I want to show you some stuff in some other cases.
That the four steps to coming up with these ripple changes are first, to identify which eating zone is most problematic in your life. There's five eating zones in your home, OK-- I mean, that trip most people up. It's either meal stuffing, f snack grazing-- you know, grazing all the time-- it's restaurant indulging, it's party binging-- you're going to receptions and just eating every hors d'oeuvre they have-- or it's the desk-board or dashboard dining.
Now, even though we can all identify with all five of these areas-- if you're normal you can identify with all five of these areas-- at any one time, there's really only one that is most troubling, and that's most vexing to your life. Mainly because, you know, if you're a meal stuffer, you're probably not much of a snack grazer. If you're a meal stuffer, which is what happens at home, you probably don't restaurant indulge, because you're eating at home most of time.
So the key is to find which of these-- self-diagnosis yourself and say, which of these is most problematic to me? Identify just three easy simple changes you could make. Like, if it's meal stuffing, you could serve off of the stove or table, or you could use a smaller plate. And track yourself for a month, and then, after a month, just try three different changes.
OK. It's really some basic stuff to do. But what we're going to do now is I'm going to give you some idea of some of these changes. And what I want to do is, kind of-- kind of move your fingers a little bit. Because I'm going to ask you to go through and look at your house. Now, I want you count on your fingers, because I'm going to tell you whether your house is making you fat by design or slim by design-- if it's moving you in the right way, the wrong way, or it's not having any effect at all.
So just-- I'll read through these. And just count on your fingers, and you'll come up with somewhere between 0 and 10 fingers when I get there.
So, first of all, are salad and vegetables served first at your house? Meaning that they're served before the entree and the starch is brought on the table. If it's yes, you go (WHISPERING) one.
Second, is the main dish pre-plated and served from the stove or counter? (WHISPERING) Two.
Third, your dinner plates are 9 to 10 inches wide. Most peoples' are about 11 to 12 inches wide.
Fourth, you eat sitting at a table with the TV turned off when you eat.
Five, there are two or fewer cans of soft drinks in your fridge at any one time.
Six, your kitchen counters are organized, not messy.
Pre-cut fruits and vegetables are now in the middle-- right now, today, if we were to go home to your refrigerator, are there pre-cut fruits and vegetables on your middle shelf. If so, you kind of go, (SQUEAKY VOICE) I'm seven.
Eight, are there at least six single-servings of protein in your fridge? They could be eggs, they could be yogurt, they could be string cheese, tofu, whatever. But at least six single servings of protein.
Nine, your snacks are kept in one inconveniently placed cupboard.
And ten, the only food on your kitchen counter is a fruit bowl.
So you should have a number between one and ten. If you have a four or less, your kitchen's probably not working that well for you. If you have a six, seven, eight, nine, or ten, things are going in the right direction. But these are really easy changes to make to bump things up a little bit.
I was a giving a talk at the TOPS convention-- annual convention-- last week in Milwaukee. TOPS stands for "Take Off Pounds Sensibly." And I did this, and I said-- I don't know why I said this-- but I said, oh, so did anybody happen to get a ten? And this woman toward the front goes, I did. And I go, I can't believe that. And people are applauding and stuff.
And then, afterwards, she comes up, and she says something like, you know how I was able to do that? I said, no. And she goes, because I got rid of the biggest barrier in my life. And I go, what's that? And she goes, my husband.
OK. So this gives you a little bit of an idea as to whether your home is working for you or against you. But there's over 100 things we find that push people in the wrong direction, and being able to look at a checklist and very visually see whether something is working for them, or not, is really useful for people to do. So we've come up with the same thing for homes that we've done also for the schools that we saw.
So there's 100-point scorecards for homes, restaurants, grocery stores, workplaces, and schools. And our hope is that the scorecards for restaurants and grocery stores help push restaurants and grocery stores in the direction of making changes-- offering half-size portions, letting people pre-plate things, turning down the music, and turning up the lights. And a lot of these things, if you go to the website slimbydesign.org, there's even a feature where you can just take one of these letters and send it, e-mail it, tweet it, to your favorite restaurant, whichever one you want to have changed-- whichever one you would like to change.
So another thing we'll want to look at, when we're getting ready to wind down here, is, what do slim people do that the rest don't? Now, we all know skinny, slim people, who don't seem to diet. They're never complaining about that they're on a diet. They never say, oh, I shouldn't. But they seem naturally slim.
It might be metabolism. Or might be that they've come up with some small, maybe even annoyingly, rules of thumb or habits that lead them not to move in the same direction as most people. So I'm really pleased. We just launched something on Monday. And, actually, the summer interns who had their arms up a little bit earlier have been working on this all summer.
It's a Slim by Design registry. And what it is, it's people who have been at a healthy weight all their life can come to the website. If they qualify with a pre-survey, what they can then fill out is a much longer survey, which is really long, but it asks them a lot of really cool questions to try to figure out what it is that they do, collectively, that heavier people don't. Because if we can figure out their secrets or their codes, there could be a lot of insights for the rest of us. For instance, we just put this up a couple days ago. I mean, this is the first time I've told anybody about it. But even that being so, I think we already have 25 people who stumbled across it somehow in two days.
For instance, this is kind of interesting. One of the questions was, "What do you do at picnics that you think might cause you to eat less than a heavier person?" And these are six of the things that were somewhat popular. "Eat only homemade foods." That makes sense, because you're not missing out on anything, other than Twinkies.
"First, eat a little of everything, and then go back for seconds on my favorites." Oh, that makes sense. "Eat only one dessert." It's interesting. They didn't say, (WHINY VOICE) " I don't eat desserts." They said, eat only one. "Don't eat boring foods." (LAUGHING) Oh, the ones I make. Yeah, OK. "Play games and talk to people." And then, "focus on fruit dishes."
So it's kind of interesting. But I would encourage you to take a look at it. If you want to join the registry, you can. And I think you're going to find a lot of valuable things and find a lot of valuable resources there that would be of interest. So this was the Slim by Design Registry at slimbydesign.org.
So now what I want to look to is, in conclusion, I want to take things back to you. Where do you want to sit when you go to a Chinese buffet?
AUDIENCE: Far away.
BRIAN WANSINK: Far away and face away. How can you become a better cook in five minutes?
BRIAN WANSINK: That's right. Exactly. Name your recipe. That's right. Or, at least, don't use your paper plates.
What do you want to put on your on your home counter?
AUDIENCE: Fruit bowl.
BRIAN WANSINK: A fruit bowl. You know what? You put a fruit bowl on your home counter, do you think it's going to make any difference tomorrow? Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem to make much difference. Hm. It it going to make any difference next week? No.
Because what happens is, you put that thing out. Nobody's ever seen it before, and they're like, ooh, I don't know. What is it? I haven't seen it before. And for like two weeks, people avoid these things. But then, somehow magically, after about two weeks, the stuff just disappears. It's really, really amazing.
But the key to that is that it has to be within about two feet of where you and your family naturally walk every day. So you can't have it, like, in some corner table over there in the dark. It's got to be next to your keys or wherever you walk very well.
Well, that's the main stuff I wanted to tell you. But I also want to tell you that we did a really cool study. It's going to be coming out in a short period of time. It's called the Syracuse study because-- oh, yeah-- we did it in Syracuse.
And what we did, we visited 250 households. And we went in, and we took pictures of their cupboards. We measured their kitchen. We measured tables. We took pictures of every single thing sitting on their counter. Um, then we tried to leave before they came home.
No. We actually-- No, we had their permission. But one of the things we found is that, if a fruit bowl is on your counter, you will, on average, weigh eight pounds less than your neighbor next door who doesn't. If you have cookies or crackers or potato chips on your counter, you'll weigh, on average, eight pounds more than your neighbor.
If you have cereal-- box of cereal on your counter-- or if you did on that one day that I can by, you'll weigh, on average, 19 pounds more than the neighbor next door. And, if you have any sort of pop-- and I'm a huge Diet Coke drinker-- but if you have diet or regular pop on your counter-- or soda pop or whatever on the counter-- you're going weigh, on average, nearly 25 pounds more than the person who doesn't.
It's just amazing. You can say, well, yeah, but that's correlation, that's not causation. And you're exactly right. But we have a saying in my lab that, if you want to be skinny, you do what skinny people do. Thank you, very much.
So if anybody has questions, that would be great. You know, one thing that I'll bring up that's kind of interesting-- we did a study a while back, where we were tracked people who weighed themselves every single day for two or more years. Some of these were Americans, and some of these were Finnish people-- people from Finland.
And one of things we found is that, basically, every person in the world has a weight rhythm that follows them through the week. Guess what day you weigh the least.
Friday morning is the day you weigh the least. Almost everybody weighs the least on Friday morning. Guess when you weigh the most?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. It's Sunday night or Monday morning. Yeah. Everybody follows this rhythm. And the neat thing is, is what differentiated in this study. People who gained weight over the course of two years versus people who lost weight over the two years had very little to do with the weekend. Because everybody over-eats during the weekends.
What it had to do with was how much they lost from Monday to Friday. The steeper that curve was, in terms of how much they lost from Monday to Friday, the better it predicted how much people would weigh two years later. It goes down steeply, you're going to lose weight. It goes down a little bit, you're probably going to gain weight. Very cool news you can use.
I think the other thing-- that implication of that-- if you're only to weigh yourself once a week, make it Wednesday morning. OK? Because if you weigh yourself Sunday night, you're going to go, (WAILING) oh, my god, this is hopeless! And then you're probably going to go off your diet. If you weigh yourself Friday morning, you go, yes-- time to celebrate!
So do we have any questions about food, about eating behavior, about people, about weirdo studies we've done?
AUDIENCE: Does the DNA you have make a difference?
BRIAN WANSINK: Oh, that's interesting. But, you know--
AUDIENCE: Because I eat like a pig, and, you know, here I am.
And I have a daughter that eats like a pig, and she's just the same.
BRIAN WANSINK: But I also see you walking every day on campus. Hm. Hm. Hm. You know, it's an interesting thing about DNA and metabolism. Because it seems to count for something, but it doesn't predict all the behavior. But the thing about DNA and metabolism-- or the thing about DNA, anyway-- is that there's really nothing we can do about it.
And so, the more we focus on it, the more sort of resigned we end up feeling about stuff. So one of the best things to do is to focus on really what you can change, instead of saying, "My fate was in the stars and not myself that--" what's the rest of the quote-- "underling," or something. Yes.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I have a question about the role that repetition, or rhythm, or, you know, when you do the same thing every day--
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah, routine?
AUDIENCE: Routine, thank you. So I have, like, this same thing-- I mean, the same thing for breakfast every single morning. And I'm not sure if this is, like, great-- I know what I'm going to eat. I'm not going to overeat. I'm not going to under-eat, because I'm doing the same thing every day. Or if this is bad, because my body's like, yo.
BRIAN WANSINK: You are right.
AUDIENCE: Switch it up.
BRIAN WANSINK: Unless you're eating 17 bowls of Trix, you are right on target. Because I think one of the biggest things the differentiates why we have a bigger obesity problem than, let's say, the Netherlands or France-- it's a number of factors. We don't smoke as much as they do, for instance. But it ends up being that our meals have a lot bigger degrees of freedom than theirs do.
In the typical Dutch meal, it's really boring. It's the same thing all the time. The typical--
BRIAN WANSINK: --American--
I should say-- it's very similar every day.
Whereas, what's our typical breakfast? I mean, most Americans' typical breakfast can't even be defined. Some days we skip it. Some days we have, like, three protein bars and a Diet Coke on the way to work. Sometimes we're stopping for omelets. And the fact that there's no real pattern to an American breakfast, that allows all these other influences to nudge us in the wrong direction.
Now how many people know somebody who eats oatmeal every single day? Now, one of things that I found-- I've probably known 30 people that oatmeal every single day, and 28 of the 30 of them are as slim as Bud was-- is. Because what happens? They've essentially taken one meal out of their equation that they don't need to worry about.
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. Great, great question. Keep it up.
AUDIENCE: I have a question about how you do the school lunch research. At my son's school, the children are required to have a vegetable on their plate. And I see all those vegetables going in the trash can, so how many vegetables are really getting eaten?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. It's a great question. And one of the things we've done with that is, a little bit more are be eaten, a lot more are being thrown away. But we find that, using the techniques we talked about here, if you can make a kid want to take a vegetable, they're more likely to eat it and less likely to throw it away.
I'll tell you a cool study that we did, here, about two years ago on the campus. We had a junior high group that was visiting. I don't know. Some whatever camp or whatever-- econometrics camp, or something. I'm not sure.
And what we did one day was, we gave them little bags of carrots with their meal. And then we looked at how many people ate them. And about 40% of the kids ate the carrots. 60% just threw them away.
What we did the next day was we gave them a choice between little bags of carrots and little bags of celery.
I mean, no kid in his right mind wants plain celery. In fact, we only had to buy about three of these bags of celery because no kid took them. What happened when we did that is instead of 40% of the kids eating the carrots, it went up to about 75% ate it, because they thought they had a choice. They're like, I took it. If I don't eat it, it means I was an idiot for taking it.
So we've found-- we've been trying things with schools of, like, using descriptive names on vegetables. And just doing something like that ends up decreasing the amount of food people throw away. But that's what we're trying to do is try to make kids feel like it's going to taste good and that they had a choice. That's a great, great question. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: So, I love dessert.
BRIAN WANSINK: Oh.
AUDIENCE: But I'm, like, pretty low weight for a boy of my age. And so, I want to know why that is.
BRIAN WANSINK: See, you know-- wait, what?
AUDIENCE: I want to know why that is.
BRIAN WANSINK: Well, because you are a very lucky young man.
BRIAN WANSINK: And I think you're incredibly blessed. And I think-- I hope that follows you for the whole time. There's going to be a time, when you're high school, when you might be skinny. You might say, why don't I have girlfriends? Is it because I'm too skinny? And, the thing is, that won't be a problem much after high school.
You're going to be a very light guy. And, you know, I'm very, very-- I'm very, very impressed by you. You're a very bold young man to come up and ask a question. Thank you, very much.
AUDIENCE: Um, hi. So I want to ask something about a nutrition fact that we can see every day. So do you think the calorie value on the nutrition facts are credible? Because sometimes something that tastes with high calorie, they seems like they have a low calorie value on nutrition facts. Because I think that it is important to keep counting calories every day if you want to go through a diet. So I'm not sure whether it's--
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. That's a really good question. I mean, there's a couple things about calories that we'll talk about. We've done a bunch of studies, and we find-- you'd think, if there's calorie labeling on menus, for instance, that says what a sandwich is. A sandwich is 800 pounds versus-- 800 calories--
--versus 400 calories. You'd think that would lead somebody to tend toward the 400-calorie sandwich. Well, it would for us. Because, for us, calories probably means we get fat. But there's a lot of people who eat a lot of fast food who, for them, if they're walking in with $2 or $3 bucks in their pocket in a Taco Bell or Arby's, calories mean, I can get full for less money and it's going to taste better. So, in that case, calorie information is used, but it's used in a way other than we'd expect it.
In your case, when you're talking about the facts panel, it's a great question. And one of the things that the FDA was proposing is-- the calories you're talking about are the calories per serving-- and the FDA wants to think about posting the entire amount of calories in the box, or in the package, on the front.
And one of the concerns, with some people about that, is that, if they do that-- let's say that typically you only have 100 calories worth of ice cream, because it says 100 calories there, so you just eat a little bit. But let's say, all of a sudden it says 700 calories on the box. Well, the fear is that somebody like you says, wow, I am really, really under-eating, and I love dessert. Maybe I should eat a little bit more.
And that's the alternative concern about putting the total calories in big letters on the box. Great. I'm pleased to hear that you're looking at the fact panel. I think it's a good thing to do. Not be obsessive about-- but it's a good thing to do. Thanks.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
Talk to us a little bit about things that people do while eating and how they correlate to weight gain and loss.
BRIAN WANSINK: That is a really great question. We did a study on dinner rituals a while back, and what we did was we took all these adults and their kids, and we asked them all these questions, and then were correlated with what their BMI is-- how heavy they are. We found out that there's five big things that correlate with eating that lead to higher BMI.
First is eating with the TV on makes both parents and kids fatter. Second is not eating at a table-- which I don't know where you'd eat. I guess the floor, the ground, couch, something like that. But the third thing that ends up being very interesting was that families that stayed together-- stayed seated until everyone was through eating-- all had a lower BMIs than people who didn't.
But then the last thing was troubling. You know, a lot of people, a lot of us, believe that it's good to cook with kids. I mean, teach them how to do things, you bond, and stuff like this. The last thing was sort of disheartening in that families that cooked with kids ended up having daughters that were heavier than families that didn't.
AUDIENCE: Just daughters.
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah, it didn't affect boys, because maybe there weren't any in the sample. It just affected daughters. And what's crazy, and we followed up a little bit on this, and we asked people, hey, do you cook with your daughter? And they go, oh, yeah. And we'd say, what do you cook?
And the majority of people bake with their kids. They're not cutting up carrots, and they're not helping them make the Beef Wellington. They're rolling out cookie dough. So I think it's not whether you cook, but it's what you're cooking. But great question. I like that.
AUDIENCE: Do talkers weigh more or less?
BRIAN WANSINK: I'm sorry.
AUDIENCE: Do talkers-- people who talk a lot at the meal.
I'm not asking out of self-interest.
BRIAN WANSINK: I'm going to write that down. That's the next research project. I don't know. We need to figure that out. We didn't see that at the Chinese buffet. We coded how, with a percent of time, the person talked relative to the other people around them. But we didn't, I think, finding anything with that. But I could take another look. That's a great question.
One thing that we do know is that outgoing people end up being much more influenced by these cues than introverts. And this works really terribly with kids. That we found, if we give little kids big bowls to serve out of, to eat out of, that extroverted kids ended up eating 44% more than introverted kids. I think it's partly because they don't pay any attention to anything.
Woo! Woo! Shiny ball. Woo!
AUDIENCE: I'm responsible for dining services at SUNY Cortland, and this past school year, this past academic year, we made a change more for a financial reason is that we were trying to limit waste. And so, for 16 weeks we measured all of the food that the students were throwing away. And then we changed in our buffet dining hall that we plated everything. They could ask us whether they wanted vegetables, or fries, or whatever. So they could tell us what they wanted on the plate, but we only gave them one portion.
They could come back as many times as they wanted, and we threw away 16,000 pounds of food less, in the 16 weeks that we plated the food and made them come back for their seconds and thirds. And I'm curious as to what factor you think that that played. Was it the inconvenience? Was it that it wasn't just sitting there in front of them and they kept eating? Or what you think the reason for that was.
BRIAN WANSINK: Well, that's wonderful. I'm really pleased to hear that. I think largely what happens in this case is that it creates an interruption. We call it a pause point. Just like a 100-calorie pack causes you say, really, do I want a fifth bag?
And you say, no. I think it does the same thing. They say, do I really want to get up and leave my friends?
We found that one reason-- with chocolate milk, people that want to limit chocolate milk but still have it-- we have some strategies that they can have in lunchrooms to make the chocolate milk really inconvenient. Because we find that kids like chocolate milk, but they like hanging out with her friends even more. And if they have to wait more than 20 seconds to get chocolate milk, either because there's a bottleneck or something like that, they just kind of go, whatever, I'll get the white stuff.
And so I think that's one thing that's going on-- that people would rather hang out with their friends than wait in line. And I'm also really pleased that you didn't say that you got rid of your lunch trays. Maybe you did, but you didn't say that. Because we've done studies-- we did a big study at Google, and we did it here, and a number of other places.
And you think that if you got rid of lunch trays, people would eat less, right? Because they wouldn't be able to pile so much food on a tray. Well, what we instead find is they eat worse. So let's say that you usually get a salad, an entree, and a dessert, but you only have two hands. What are you going to leave behind?
Yeah. Yeah. We find almost 70% of all the students leave the salad behind. Almost everybody takes the dessert. So what happens is the lunch trays don't necessarily get kids to eat a lot less, but they get them to eat a lot worse. Great question. You're doing the Lord's work. That's a tough job.
AUDIENCE: Yes. This is one I'm sure you've heard before, which is should I be eating breakfast or not? I am never hungry in the morning, and I don't usually get hungry until about noon. But if I force myself to eat breakfast that will sort of jump start my hunger, and then I'm hungry all day long. And so it seems counter-intuitive for me to force myself to eat breakfast, but that's what all the nutritioners are saying. They're saying that we should not skip breakfast. So what do yo u have to say about that?
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. I mean, so I'm not an RD, but I kind of believe the same way. In fact, when we look at what slim people do, almost all of them do eat some sort of breakfast. But one thing that's been coming out-- and this is a crazy thing-- my brother has a hard time eating well. And after 20 years of being married, he finds himself single now with two kids. And he has a hard time eating well, and he has a hard time with his hunger cues.
And so one of the things we worked out with him, and it works out really well, is that he buys this vegetable-- you know, like what V-8 is-- he buys some vegetable juice. He mixes in a little thing of protein. And what it does is he drinks that in the morning, even though he doesn't want breakfast. And he's not even tempted up until lunchtime.
And I think it gives him some vegetables that he doesn't have the rest of the day. So having something, even if it's a liquid thing, I think, is probably pretty good.
AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you.
BRIAN WANSINK: Thank you, very much. Well, we've got one more question, because you were kind enough to hand things out. And it's Sam, isn't it?
AUDIENCE: Yeah. Sorry. Thank you for your lecture. It was really interesting. I'm just curious to whether you've come, in your research, to find out whether or not certain social identities had an impact on whether someone was overweight or not? Like gender, race, sexual orientation.
BRIAN WANSINK: Yeah. You know, there's a lot of social economic factors that are correlated with weight gain. And they're kind of-- many are ones that are the obvious ones you would think. But kind of an interesting way this takes people is that a lot of people-- and I'll just give you one of the more interesting things related to socioeconomic variables, sociodemographic variables.
A lot of people think that the bigger the kitchen is, the bigger the people are. Right? I mean, that makes perfect sense. Because you have 36 bags of chips that you bought from Costco. And the five pound barrel of pretzels from Sam's Club because you can store it there. So, naturally, you'd just gain a lot of weight.
But one thing with our Syracuse study was that the size of your kitchen has no correlation with the size of your waistline. But it's because of this. The people who can afford big, huge kitchens, can also afford trainers, and dietitians, and fancy riding bikes. And so it's not the size of the kitchen, it ends up being the size of their income that enables that kitchen to not have their impact on them. That's a great question, Sam.
BRIAN WANSINK: Thank you again, very much, for taking your time. Have a great summer.
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The way our homes, schools, restaurants, workplaces, and grocery stores are set up predictably lead us to pick up cookies rather than apples. But just as they've evolved to make us overeat, we can easily redesign them to make us slim, according to Brian Wansink, the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell and head of Cornell's Food and Brand Lab.
In this July 23, 2014 lecture sponsored by Cornell's School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, Wansink offers actionable ideas that his lab has developed, tested, tweaked, and analyzed in dozens of towns and cities across the United States and abroad. Most are low-cost or no-cost solutions that anyone can use to eat better and eat less without thinking about it.