Kitchen Counter Contents Correlates of Obesity, New Research

Kitchen Counter Contents Correlates of Obesity, New Research

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Title: Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity

Author: Wansink et al.

Journal: Health Education and Behavior

Objective: To examine how salience and convenience of countertop food items may be related to a person’s BMI.

Background

Being overweight or obese is a growing problem globally, and especially in the United States. Having a BMI >30 is associated with an increased risk of

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Early death
  • Host of other medical problems.

Health professionals and researchers are increasingly asked to counsel patients on how to lose weight and prevent weight gain. Patients are often counselled to “eat less and exercise more”. I can personally say that the patients I see in the ED have told me that this is not productive and has not helped them achieve weight loss. And the research backs this up.

Reduction in total caloric intake is the ideal method for preventing weight gain and facilitating weight loss. Methods to do that include:

  • Various diets
  • Calorie counting
  • Eating out less often
  • Cooking more meals at home

The researchers of this publication wanted to know what foods were sitting on your kitchen counter and how the food was arranged would impact your weight.

Methods

This was a two part study.

The first part was a nationwide survey of 500 households who provided an inventory of their kitchen as well as their height and weight.

In the second phase, researchers photographed and catalogued 210 households measured the occupants’ height and weight.

Results

The presence of fruit on the counter was associated with lower BMI.

The presence of foods such as candy, cereal, soft drinks, and dried fruit were associated with increased weight, ranging from 9.4 to 14.4 kg.

Conclusions

Keeping unhealthy or energy-dense food out of sight makes them less accessible and less likely that you will snack when not hungry.

When counseling patients regarding their weight, physicians should suggest they clear their kitchen counter of all food except a fruit bowl.

Original Article

Wansink, B., Hanks, A. S., & Kaipainen, K. (2015). Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity. Health Education & Behavior, 43(5), 552-558. doi:10.1177/1090198115610571

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