Foods Displayed on Kitchen Counter Linked to Person's Weight

Patient Expert

Many people made New Year’s resolutions to purge their spaces. They’re cleaning out their closets, using the Marie "Konmari" Kondo method to “spark joy” in their homes, and trying Feng Shui on their spaces to encourage a visit from prosperity. While all of these efforts are wonderful, researchers suggest that one small environmental change may make a big difference in maintaining a healthy weight (which is yet another common New Year’s resolution).

What you see on the kitchen counter is linked to your weight
A recent study out of Cornell University found a correlation between weight and what people displayed on their kitchen counters. In the first part of this study, the researchers asked a national sample of 500 households to inventory what was in their kitchen and also list their height and weight. For the second part of the study, researchers analyzed photographs of 210 household kitchens in Syracuse, NY. The people who used those kitchens were also weighed and measured.

The researchers’ analysis provided pretty interesting fodder for those who want to maintain a healthy weight. For instance, participants who displayed breakfast cereal on their kitchen counters weighed about 20 pounds more than those who did not keep these foods easily accessible. Furthermore, participants who kept either diet or regular soft drinks on kitchen countertops weighed up to 26 pounds more than other study participants. People who showcased cookies carried eight pounds more on their frames while those who kept dried fruits on their countertops also had higher weights.  In comparison, participants who displayed a bowl of fruit weighed 13 pounds less than neighbors.

Food for thought – and action
The researchers suggest that these findings should serve as encouragement for health care professionals to counsel their patients to clear their countertops of all food except a fruit bowl. Dr. Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and the study’s lead author, noted that consumers can have other food items (such as sodas or cereal) in their kitchen, but advised that these products be stored away in the cupboard so they’re not readily visible when hunger pangs strike or as easily accessible.

So what fruits should you display? Dr. Wansink doesn’t delineate which ones are the best to keep on view. However, you probably should select fruits that don’t need refrigeration, such as bananas, oranges, lemons, apples and stone fruit (such as peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums).  Plus, you can always display tomatoes (which are fruit, but we often think of them as vegetables). Obviously if you don’t consume these fruits within the week, you’ll need to watch them to make sure they’re not starting to turn and may need to refrigerate them at some point.

And while Dr. Wansink’s study doesn’t address displaying vegetables on kitchen countertops, these types of produce can make great displays because they reinforce healthy eating. For instance, root vegetables, hard squashes, onions, garlic and ginger don’t need to be refrigerated and can offer a lovely cornucopia to display on a kitchen countertop.

So, ditch the junk food on the countertop and in decorative bowls around your house—out of sight, out of mind!

See More Helpful Articles

10 Tips for a Healthier, Leaner New Year

Trick Your Brain Into Eating Less

9 New Healthy Food Options for 2016

Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

Food & Brand Lab. (2015). Kitchen Counter Foods that Relate to Your Weight. Cornell University.

Durland, F. (2011). What Produce Survives Best Outside of the Refrigerator?

Wansink, B, Hanks, A.S. , & Kaipainen, K. (2015). Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity.  Health Education & Behavior.

White, D.A. (2012). 8 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate.