The study, which comes from the Journal of Consumer Research, experimented with fork sizes at a popular Italian restaurant chain in the southwestern United States. Diners were separated out into tables containing large forks and small forks. The large forks could hold 20 per cent more food than the restaurant’s standard fork, and the small forks were able to hold 20 per cent less.
Each time a server took a customer’s order, they would weigh the full plate of food before serving. At the end of the meal, the plates were weighed once again. The result: People who used the big forks ate less than their small fork counterparts.
There’s just one catch – the big fork/small fork theory only works in restaurants. When researchers conducted a similar study in the lab, they found that people using big forks ate more. The reason, explains MedicalXpress, is that “people go into restaurants with a well-defined goal of satiating their hunger, and, because of this well-defined goal, they are willing to invest effort and resources to satiate their hunger.” It’s possible that people who use smaller forks feel that they’re making less progress towards their goal of finishing the meal, so they overcompensate by eating more.
It’s unlikely that this study will spur restaurants to replace all of their forks with larger versions; there is no incentive for them to want consumers to eat less of their food. It’s up to customers, then, to request jumbo forks if they’re looking to eat a little less.
Image: Flickr user Yarden Sachs
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