Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that a concept called ‘unit bias’ may cause people to overeat, since most people determine serving size based on the size of a product’s packaging. Researchers put a large bowl of M&Ms candies in an apartment lobby with a quarter-cup spoon half the time, and a tablespoon the other half. After 10 days, the research found that people took two-thirds more M&Ms by weight on days when the bigger spoon was offered. Similar experiments featuring large and small Tootsie Rolls and pretzels yielded similar results. ‘Whatever’s served on your plate, it just seems locked in our heads: That’s a meal,’ says researcher Andrew Geier. ‘Unit bias’ — determining appropriate portion size based on container size — likely differs by culture, Geier says. For example, French yogurt containers are about half the typical size in America, but French people don’t buy more containers to make up the difference. Some food manufacturers have started manufacturing 100-calorie packets of food to help combat the obesity epidemic, which may have been partly brought on by the ‘super-size’ trend of fast-food restaurants. Geier recommends that dieters consciously take more control over their own […]

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