by ANANYA PRAKASH Staff Writer
Once you open a container of potato chips, it can be hard to stop munching its contents until you suddenly realize you are scraping the bottom of the can, but researchers may have found a new way to help. One study suggests that inserting colored potato chips as edible serving size markers act as subconscious stop signs that might actually help curb your appetite. “Wow that would really help me stay on my diet! I can never really control the amount of chips I eat, but I think these colored chips may just do the trick,” said freshman Bindiya Desai. Brian Wansink, Cornell Food and Brand Lab director, carried out the study with psychologists Andrew Geier of Yale University and Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania by giving students one of two types of Lays’ Stackable potato chips. The first group was given a stack of chips with red-dyed, edible potato chips dividers that were interspersed at several different intervals, suggesting serving sizes anywhere from five to 14 chips. The other group was given the traditional stack of potato chips with no edible dividers. What the researchers found was that inserting colored potato chips at regular intervals in the stacks caused people to eat fewer chips overall. In fact, the group with the edible serving size dividers reduced their potato chip consumption by 50 percent. “People generally eat what is put in front of them if it is palatable,” said Wansink. “An increasing amount of research suggests that some people use visual indication, such as a clean plate or bottom of a bowl, to tell them when to stop eating. By inserting visual markers in a snack food package, we may be helping them to monitor how much they are eating and interrupt their semiautomated eating habits,” he added. He observed that the experiment reduced caloric consumption among participants by about 250 calories. “The effect demonstrated and replicated in these studies stands as perhaps the largest practicable procedure to decrease food intake in the literature,” Wansink said. “Marking modest portion sizes promises to be an effective strategy in the attempt to reduce food intake and obesity.” Wansink said further studies are needed among larger, more diverse groups to determine in what context segmentation cues work, exactly why they work, and whether people will compensate for the reduction in food intake by eating more later. “This would definitely help many people I know, including myself. I can never stop eating til’ there are only crumbs left in the bowl!” said sophomore Radha Patel.