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Changing Our Environment Can Change Our Diets

Understanding nutrition doesn’t guarantee that we will develop healthy eating habits, says Brian Wansink of Cornell University. In this video from the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health, Wansink explains that our environment has a profound influence on how we eat. The lighting in the place where we’re eating, the amounts the people around us are eating, and the size of the serving spoons used to put food on our plates are all factors that influence our diets. Empirical studies have shown that when people are given larger plates, they serve themselves more food, and a simple step like moving a candy dish from one’s desk to a table across the room can reduce daily candy intake by more than half. Based on his research, Wansink recommends simple, common-sense steps to improve nutrition, such as keeping healthy snacks around the house and extending students’ lunch hours so that they have more time to eat.

OBSSR offers more videos about behavioral and social sciences research on its website.

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