Size of Fork Used When Eating Affects Overall Consumption

Summary
The consumption of food may depend upon many factors like food portion, tools used to consume food, and bite size. People visit restaurants to satisfy their hunger. They have a well-defined goal of having good food. In such a situation, internal cues from your body about satiety are more important than external cues such as the size of the fork. Smaller forks are considered to provide less satiety and so, people consume more food with smaller forks. However, in the laboratory, participants do not have a fixed, well-defined goal of satisfying their hunger. In such a situation, they depend on external cues for achieving satiety. Thus, the participants consume more food when provided with large-sized forks. This study found that in a restaurant setting, diners consumed more food from a smaller fork rather than from a larger one.

Introduction
Food is obviously related to health. However, the way in which it is consumed also affects the health. Overconsumption of food is considered a leading cause of obesity and associated diseases. Research studies on consumer behavior have so far focused on how food is consumed. Such studies found that bigger-sized portions lead to higher consumption of food. However, the effect of bite size, which refers to the amount of food consumed in each mouthful, has not been studied. The current research tested the effects of consuming different-sized morsels of food on the total food consumption in an actual restaurant as well as a laboratory setting.

Methodology
* In the first experiment, 60 participants consumed food in a restaurant. They were divided into two groups. One group used small forks and the other group used large forks, which were 20 percent smaller and 20 percent larger, respectively, than the usual restaurant forks.
* The weight of the food plates before serving the customer and the weight after the dish was returned were recorded to document the amount of food consumed. Other data such as price of menu, drinks consumed, and so on were recorded.
* In the second experiment, 81 students participated. They were provided a fixed amount of pasta salad. After the participants indicated that they had enough food, the remaining amount was weighed. The participants used the same forks as used in the first experiment. After finishing the meal, the participants were interviewed.
* Statistical analysis was performed to establish the relation between bite size and the amount of food consumed.

Results
* The mean weight of leftovers in restaurant setting was 7.91 oz. in the group that used large forks. This value was 4.43 oz. in the group that used small forks.
* This indicated that in the restaurant, people who used large forks had consumed less quantity of food, while those who used small forks had consumed larger quantities.
* The mean weight of leftovers in the laboratory setting was 4.09 oz. in the group that used large forks. This value was 5.19 oz. in the group that used small forks.
* This indicated that in the laboratory, people who used large forks had consumed more quantity of food, while those who used small forks had consumed lesser quantities of food.

Conclusion
This study found that in a restaurant setting, diners consumed more food from a smaller fork rather than from a larger one. These results were exactly reversed in the laboratory setting where for a fixed amount of initial available food, people using larger forks consumed more quantity. Large forks meant that the amount of food consumed in one mouthful (bite size) was large. This phenomenon can be explained by the motivation theory. People visit restaurants with a defined aim of satisfying their hunger. They have a choice of selecting their menu. In such conditions, eating with a smaller bite size produces lesser satiety with every bite; hence, people eat more. On the other hand, in the laboratory, the participants do not have a specific aim of satisfying their hunger. They are offered a fixed quantity of food and in such forced situations, people are influenced by the feedback provided by the medium to satisfy the goal. In this study, the medium was fork; hence, people using large-sized forks consumed more food. The findings of this research can provide a direction with regard to preparation of food and presenting it as a consumer item.

For More Information:
The Influence of Bite Size on Quantity of Food Consumed: A Field Study
Publication Journal: Journal of Consumer Research, June 2011
Arul Mishra; Himanshu Mishra; David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, Salt Lake City




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