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Healthy reflections: Mirrors can make unhealthy foods less tasty

Date:
December 17, 2015
Source:
Cornell Food & Brand Lab
Summary:
People often choose the unhealthy food because they think it is tastier. Aiming for solutions promoting healthy eating practices and ultimately combating obesity, this research shows that the presence of a mirror in a consumption setting can reduce the perceived tastiness of unhealthy food, which consequently reduces its consumption.
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People often choose the unhealthy food because they think it is tastier. Aiming for solutions promoting healthy eating practices and ultimately combating obesity, this research shows that the presence of a mirror in a consumption setting can reduce the perceived tastiness of unhealthy food, which consequently reduces its consumption.

In a taste test study, 185 undergraduate students chose between a chocolate cake and a fruit salad and then evaluated its taste in a room with a mirror or with no mirrors around. Those who selected the chocolate cake evaluated it less tasty in the room with a mirror compared to those with no mirrors around. However, the presence of a mirror did not change the taste of the fruit salad.

Lead researcher Ata Jami of the University of Central Florida explains, "A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance. It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others." He found that mirrors can push people to compare and match their behaviors with social standards of correctness. Accordingly, when one fails to follow the standards, he/she does not want to look at a mirror because it enhances the discomfort of the failure. Thus, the presence of a mirror induces a discomfort and lowers the perceived taste of the unhealthy food. This only holds true if the food is selected by the diner because then he/she feels responsible for the food choice. Eating healthy does not induce any discomfort and, as a result, mirror does not change the taste of healthy food.

This research suggests that placing a mirror in dining rooms and other eating spaces so that diners can see themselves eat, can be an effective way for individuals and restaurants to encourage healthier eating practices.


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Materials provided by Cornell Food & Brand Lab. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell Food & Brand Lab. "Healthy reflections: Mirrors can make unhealthy foods less tasty." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151217151657.htm>.
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. (2015, December 17). Healthy reflections: Mirrors can make unhealthy foods less tasty. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151217151657.htm
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. "Healthy reflections: Mirrors can make unhealthy foods less tasty." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151217151657.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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