Cluttered kitchens cause over-snacking

February 3, 2016
Cluttered and chaotic environments can cause stress, which can lead us to grab more of the indulgent snacks -- twice as many cookies according to this new study. Credit: Daniel Miller

Cluttered and chaotic environments can cause stress, which can lead us to grab more of the indulgent snacks— twice as many cookies according to this new study!

Conducted at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and published in Environment and Behavior, the study shows that cluttered kitchens are caloric kitchens. When stressed out females were asked to wait for another person in a messy kitchen—with newspapers on the table, dishes in the sink, and the phone ringing - they ate twice as many cookies compared to women in the same kitchen when it was organized and quiet. In total they ate 65 more calories more in 10 minutes time.

"Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diets. It seems to lead people to think, 'Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn't I be?'" says lead author Lenny Vartanian, PhD., now Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Australia. "I suspect the same would hold with males," he adds.

The video will load shortly

Half of the 101 females participating in the study waited in a cluttered kitchen with scattered piles of papers and dirty dishes, while the other half waited in an organized kitchen. Both kitchens had bowls of cookies, crackers, and carrots. Prior to entering the room, however, some of the participants were asked to write about a time when their life was out of control and others were asked to write of a time when they were in control. The latter group entered the cluttered room feeling in control and ate about 100 fewer calories than those who felt out of control before entering.

"Although meditation, as a way of feeling in control, might be one way to resist snacking for some, it's probably easier just to keep our kitchens picked up and cleaned up," said coauthor Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design.

Explore further: Snacking while watching action movies leads to overeating

More information: L. R. Vartanian et al. Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments, Environment and Behavior (2016). DOI: 10.1177/0013916516628178

Related Stories

Snacking while watching action movies leads to overeating

September 1, 2014

Is television making us fat? An increasing amount of research shows an association between TV viewing and higher food consumption and a more sedentary lifestyle. Now, a new Cornell University study points out that not all ...

People watching tearjerkers eat 28-55% more

March 2, 2015

Sad movies are bad news for diets. A newly reported study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab showed movie-goers watching tearjerkers ate between 28% and 55% more popcorn both in the lab and in a mall theater during the Thanksgiving ...

Men eat more food when dining with women

November 17, 2015

If you're a man, how much you eat may have more to do with the gender of your dining companions than your appetite. A new Cornell University study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, found that men ...

Recommended for you

Can nicotine protect the aging brain?

September 20, 2016

Everyone knows that tobacco products are bad for your health, and even the new e-cigarettes may have harmful toxins. However, according to research at Texas A&M, it turns out the nicotine itself—when given independently ...

Science can shape healthy city planning

September 23, 2016

Previous studies have shown a correlation between the design of cities and growing epidemics of injuries and non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A three-part series published in The Lancet ...

50-country comparison of child and youth fitness levels

September 21, 2016

An international research team co-led from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of North Dakota studied the aerobic fitness levels of children and youth across 50 countries. The results are ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.