Does the color red make people eat less?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

red cookie
I wonder if I’d be less tempted to scarf down all those cookies because they’re on a red plate.

According to a new study, people eat less food when it’s on a red plate!

How did researchers figure this out? Well, volunteers were told to rate the nuttiness of chocolate, the stickiness of hand cream, and the saltiness of popcorn, after receiving the samples on a red, blue, or white plate. Surveys also asked them how much they liked the food and moisturizers. What they weren’t told is that the study was really more focused on the quantity of food and lotion they took from the colored dishes. That way, the knowledge didn’t influence their actions in any way.

“We wanted to find out if the effect was limited to eating or generalized to other types of consumption. The cream was a convenient way to evaluate another sensory system – touch, rather than taste,” said Nicola Bruno, a psychology researcher from the University of Parma, Italy who authored the study.

When the popcorn and chocolate were on red plates, people ate less than when they were on white or blue ones. Even the hand cream users apparently applied half as much lotion to their hands when it was on red. Before you go stock up on red plates, though, consumer psychologist Oliver Genschow warns, “We don’t know what will happen if people are conscious of their plate’s colors. Maybe it won’t work anymore.”

Featured image courtesy of Perke on Flickr. Image  of cookies courtesy of Nina Matthews Photography on Flickr.