Overeating: the trick to stop munching this full Pringles Can in one go


Peanuts, Olives, Nuts, Chips…You might have been enjoying the summer way of life, having a few barbecues with the classic snacks that come with it.

Summer holidays are almost over so you might want to stop munching all the Chips you find...

B. Wansink, from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab might found a way to help you.

The nudge mechanism

By adding edible serving size markers that act as subconscious stop signs in the tube.

Basically, inserting red-dyed chips in the tube at regular intervals.

In a study over 98 students, chip stackables including red chips were served.

The red chips were interspersed at intervals designating one suggested serving size (7 chips) or two serving sizes (14 chips);

In the second study, this was changed to 5 and 10 chips.

The students were unaware of why some of the chips were red.


In all cases, these students consumed about 50% less than their peers!

Why did it work? The power of points of decision.

These red chips act as “points of decision”.

It creates an interruption for you to stop and think. This point of decision are useful to fight against the status quo bias, because of which we tends to carry on the action as our brain avoids to use energy to take new decisions.

It also helps you to estimate more accurately how much you’ve eaten to make a responsible decision.

For example, those in the control groups underestimated the amount of chips they had consumed by about 13 chips.

Those in the "segmented" groups were able to guess within one chip.

Being able to accurately retrieve this information is fundamental for you to make better decision.

Beyond Pringles, reducing food intake and GHG emissions

In the experience, B. Wansink noted that the caloric intake among participants was reduced by about 250 calories.

"Very modest reductions in intake produced by environmental changes can, when cumulated, lead to substantial weight loss," Wansink said. "These studies could have major public health significance."

Beyond public health, reducing calories intake is strategic as it automatically impacts our overall food consumption. Our food consumption has a direct effect on Climate Change.

The food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. By consequence, reducing the consumption of the most GHG generating food (meat-based food) has been proven an efficient way to fight against climate change.


  • Pre-cut large meat pieces in smaller piece within the package

  • Sell only small meat pieces

  • Integrate information about ideal portion size on the packaging

Any additional ideas? Please share, I’d be happy to hear from you!

Let's conclude by highlighting the fact that this is not a one-size fits approach. B.Wansink said further studies are needed among larger, more diverse groups to determine in what context segmentation cues work, exactly why they work and whether people will compensate for the reduction in food intake by eating more later. However this is surely a direction we should explore.

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