Researchers have long determined that supersized servings of our favorite foods is a key contributor to America’s rampant obesity epidemic.
But why do we feel the need to heap so much food on our plates? A recent study out of the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University offers us some insight.
For starters, the larger the size of packaging, the more likely we are to eat larger portions of the food it contains. But the images on food packaging may also lead people to eat more than what’s recommended.
Take a box of cake mix. On the front of the box, you may find a large slice of cake topped with frosting, sprinkles, chocolate chips or other tasty morsels. The problem is that the calories for all of these extra goodies far surpasses the calories of serving sizes of the calories per serving listed on the box’s nutritional label.
“If we see a slice of cake smothered in frosting on the cake box, we think that is what is normal to serve and eat, but that’s not what is reflected in the serving size recommendation on the nutrition label,” said researcher John Brand at Cornell.
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The Food & Brand Lab researchers studied 51 different cake mixes — comparing the calories stated on the nutritional label with the cal0ries of the cake (and frosting) pictured on the box. The result: the average calories of cake and frosting pictured on the cake mix packages exceeded the nutritional label by 134 percent.
Of course, this phenomena doesn’t stop at cake mixes. Think syrup on pancakes, dips with chips, sprinkles on ice cream, marinara on spaghetti. You get the drift.
So next time you’re at the store, take the extra few moments to look at the difference between nutritional labels and the enticing images on packaging.