HEADLINES Published February18, 2016 By Bernadette Strong

A Cluttered Kitchen May Lead to More Snacking

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A cluttered and disorganized kitchen, unlike the one here, may lead to more snacking.
(Photo : Keystone, Getty Images)

Is your kitchen cluttered? Do you find yourself snacking a lot? That disordered kitchen may be giving you the munchies, according to a recent study.

The study was conducted at Cornell University and Syracuse University, both in upstate New York. To test whether clutter has an impact on food choices, calorie consumption, and how mindset influences food choices, the researchers asked 98 female college students to participate in what the students were told was an experiment on the link between personality and taste preferences.

Half of the women were randomly assigned to sit in an organized, quiet, and clean kitchen, while the rest were directed to what the study called a "chaotic" kitchen, which was a noisy, messy room with tables piled with papers and dishes and pots scattered around. In the messy kitchen, a researcher kept trying to clean the room while the participant was there and there were other interruptions.

The women were asked to complete brief writing assignments on one of three topics - a time when they felt chaotic and out-of-control, a time when they felt organized and in control, or a neutral recollection of their most recent class lecture.

When they finished writing, snacks were brought in for what women thought was a taste test of cookies, crackers, and carrots.

Women in the messy kitchen who wrote about a stressful moment in their lives ate 103 calories of cookies, while those who had just recalled a time when they felt organized and in control ate only 38 calories of cookies.

In the clean kitchen, women who wrote about a time when they were out of control consumed 61 calories of cookies, compared to 50 calories for those who recalled a moment when they felt organized and in control.

This study has limitations, the authors noted. The researchers did not try to see how the different kitchens actually made women feel. And because the messy kitchen also had noise and other distractions, it is possible that the distractions affected the women's snack choices.

Even so, the researchers concluded that a less cluttered, less distracting, and less chaotic environment might lead people to snack less.

You can link to a download of the study, which was published in the journal Environment and Behavior, here.  

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