Diet and NutritionIn the News

Watching your weight? Watch What You Leave On Your Countertop.

What’s on your kitchen counter? I’ll guess a toaster, a pile of mail, a cell phone charger –  and just maybe the secret to your weight.

Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently studied the correlation between what food is sitting on a kitchen countertop and the weight of the woman who lives in the home. Over 200 kitchens in Syracuse, New York were photographed and the weight and height of the occupants were recorded. Analysis of the  photos resulted in some interesting associations. Women who kept soda on the counter weighed 26 pounds more than those who didn’t. That might not be surprising, due to what we know about consuming sugary drinks. But what about breakfast cereal? Wholesome and nutritious, right? Maybe, but also associated with a 20 pound weight increase in the homes where it was kept on the counter. That’s more than twice the 8 pounds that leaving cookies on the counter is correlated to!

So, is the answer to completely clear off the counters? Not according to this research. People living in homes that kept fruit on the counter weighed about 13 pounds less.

“It’s your basic See-Food Diet – you eat what you see,” said lead author Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.“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.”

Anytime we can make it easier to make the healthy choice we nudge ourselves toward better health. You can still have your cereal, just put it back in the cupboard after breakfast and slide the fruit bowl front and center.



Kirsikka Kaipainen, PhD et al. Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of ObesityHealth Education and Behavior, October 2015 DOI: 10.1177/1090198115610571

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Alison Relyea-Parr

Alison Relyea-Parr

Alison is the editor and contributor of A UW-Madison graduate, Alison is also an illustrator and educator.