The food sitting out on your kitchen counter offers clues about your weight, a new study reveals.
Cornell University researchers photographed kitchen counters in more than 200 American homes and then checked the weight of the women living in those houses.
Women who had breakfast cereal sitting on the counter weighed 20 pounds more than women who didn’t have cereal boxes on display. And women in homes with soft drinks sitting on the counter weighed 24 to 26 pounds more than those living in homes without soft drinks on the counter, the investigators found.
“It’s your basic ‘see-food diet’ — you eat what you see,” lead author Brian Wansink, professor and director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, said in a university news release.
“As a cereal lover, that shocked me. Cereal has a health-halo, but if you eat a handful every time you walk by, it’s not going to make you skinny,” he explained.
On the flip side, women who had a stocked fruit bowl on their countertops weighed 13 pounds less than women without the easily accessible fruit.
Although this study found an association between what was on the counter and a person’s weight, it wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study was published online recently in the journal Health Education and Behavior.
“We’ve got a saying in our lab: ‘If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do.’ If skinny people make their homes ‘slim by design’ by clearing the counters of everything but the fruit bowl, it won’t hurt us to do the same,” Wansink said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent weight gain.