Why Super Bowl Food Sacks a Diet
Researchers Have Come Up With 1 Way to Avoid Pigging Out When the Pigskin Flies
Feb. 2, 2007 -- Super Bowl food may spike your diet this Sunday unless you
have a good game plan.
Enter Cornell University's Brian Wansink, PhD, and Collin Payne, PhD. Their
latest study provides a simple strategy to tackle mindless eating during the
big game: just look at how much you've eaten.
The researchers found that students invited to a past year's Super Bowl
party ate less if the evidence of their gobbling wasn't immediately bused
"In general, it is important to have some idea of how much you have
eaten," Wansink says in a Cornell news release.
"Serve yourself onto a plate, and then stop when the plate is empty.
This is the best strategy for unintended overeating at your Super Bowl
party," Wansink says. "Dish it out, eat it slowly, and stop."
Wansink directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. He's
also author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.
For the study, Wansink and Payne invited 50 graduate students (34 women and
16 men) to an all-you-can-eat sports bar for a Super Bowl party.
The students were randomly seated at 21 tables and were able to help
themselves to as many chicken wings as they wanted during the game.
Wansink and Payne had instructed the waiters to regularly clear leftover
chicken wing bones off half the tables, and to let them pile up on plates on
the other tables.
Students at the tables where the bones piled up ate fewer chicken wings
(five wings per person, on average) than those at the bused tables (seven wings
per person, on average).
Seeing the stack of chicken bones pile up on their plates may have been a
visual cue to the students at the tables that weren't bused that they'd had
But the evidence was whisked off the bused tables, possibly spurring those
students to eat more chicken wings, the researchers speculate.
It's also possible leftover bones were simply an unappetizing sight, or
maybe the students were embarrassed by their bone buildup, note Wansink and
The bottom line from the study: If you have some visual report of how much
you've eaten, you may slow down instead of doing an end run around your
The same strategy may also work with drinks, say the researchers.
If your empty drink bottles or cups are left on your table, you might be
more aware of how much you've had to drink than if empty drink containers are
"This is one ally in the fight against mindless eating or drinking"
in a distracting environment such as a Super Bowl party, write Wanskin and
Their study is due for publication in an upcoming issue of Perceptual
and Motor Skills, according to the Cornell news release.