Nav: Home

Healthy reflections

December 17, 2015

People often choose the unhealthy food because they think it is tastier. Aiming for solutions promoting healthy eating practices and ultimately combating obesity, this research shows that the presence of a mirror in a consumption setting can reduce the perceived tastiness of unhealthy food, which consequently reduces its consumption.

In a taste test study, 185 undergraduate students chose between a chocolate cake and a fruit salad and then evaluated its taste in a room with a mirror or with no mirrors around. Those who selected the chocolate cake evaluated it less tasty in the room with a mirror compared to those with no mirrors around. However, the presence of a mirror did not change the taste of the fruit salad.

Lead researcher Ata Jami of the University of Central Florida explains, "A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance. It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others." He found that mirrors can push people to compare and match their behaviors with social standards of correctness. Accordingly, when one fails to follow the standards, he/she does not want to look at a mirror because it enhances the discomfort of the failure. Thus, the presence of a mirror induces a discomfort and lowers the perceived taste of the unhealthy food. This only holds true if the food is selected by the diner because then he/she feels responsible for the food choice. Eating healthy does not induce any discomfort and, as a result, mirror does not change the taste of healthy food.

This research suggests that placing a mirror in dining rooms and other eating spaces so that diners can see themselves eat, can be an effective way for individuals and restaurants to encourage healthier eating practices.
-end-
This article is published in the inaugural issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research entitled "The Behavioral Science of Eating." This issue has been edited by Brian Wansink of Cornell University and Koert van Ittersum of the University of Groningen.

Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Related Taste Articles:

Now or later: How taste and sound affect when you buy
New research finds the type of sensory experience an advertisement conjures up in our mind -- taste and touch vs. sight and sound -- has a fascinating effect on when we make purchases.
Bitter or sweet? How taste cells decide what they want to be
A new study from the Monell Center and collaborating institutions advances understanding of how stem cells on the tongue grow into the different types of mature taste cells that detect either sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or umami.
Sour taste cells detect water
New research suggests that sour-sensing taste cells also help us detect, or taste, water.
How to make tomatoes taste awesome again (video)
Why are so many supermarket tomatoes tasteless and rock hard?
Orangutan able to guess a taste without sampling it, just like us
Without having tasted a new juice mix before, an orangutan in a Swedish zoo has enough sense to know whether it will taste nice or not based on how he recombined relevant memories from the past.
Do eco-friendly wines taste better?
It's time to toast environmentally friendly grapes. A new UCLA study shows that eco-certified wine tastes better -- and making the choice even easier, earlier research shows it's often cheaper, too.
Patented bioelectrodes have electrifying taste for waste
New research at Michigan State University and published in the current issue of Nature Communications shows how Geobacter bacteria grow as films on electrodes and generate electricity -- a process that's ready to be scaled up to industrial levels.
Music makes beer taste better
Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Gaining a better understanding of the way we taste
For the first time Japanese researchers discovered that the extracellular domain of taste receptor proteins undergoes a change in structure by binding together taste substances.
The taste or smell of foods can affect aging, say scientists
POSTECH researchers, Seung-Jae Lee and Murat Artan, discovered that the smell or taste of food can directly shorten lifespan by affecting sensory neurons that produce insulin-6, an insulin hormone-like factor.

Related Taste Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".