Visible Food Throughout the House Can Make Us Fat

It's something you learn right away at just about any weight loss control program.

If you leave the chips out, you're going to want to eat them.

Now a new study confirms it.  According to, keeping foods visible throughout the house leads to obesity.

The Ohio State University study focused primarily on determining whether the home environment – architectural features and food storage and availability – was associated with obesity, but also measured a number of psychological factors. While architectural features had no relationship to obesity status, several food-related findings did.

People in the study who were obese kept more food visible throughout the house and generally ate less-healthy foods, such as sweets, than non-obese research participants. The two groups spent about the same amount of money on food and reported eating similar amounts of total calories, but non-obese participants spent less on fast food than did obese individuals.

That's obvious, of course, but the study found also that the amount of food in the homes of obese and non-obese people was similar.  The amount, that is.  Not the type.

"But in the homes of obese individuals, food was distributed in more locations outside the kitchen,” says Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study. “That speaks to the environment being arranged in a way that may make it harder to avoid eating food. That has not been clearly documented before.”

A friend's husband, a Brit, loves chocolate and frequently brings home gobs of the rich, creamy stuff whenever he visits his home country.  He leaves it lying around the house everywhere.  He's skinny as a stick but the rest of the house isn't.

I have to hide sweets from my husband because if he finds them, he devours them.  But sometimes I forget where I put them!

We can't blame it all on the house, however.  Though the study's statistical modeling identified predictors of obesity status, the predictors shouldn’t be considered causes of weight problems, Emery says. “We’re painting a detailed picture of the home environment that two different groups of people have created. Whether that environment contributed to obesity or obesity led to the environment, we don’t know.”

So stow those chips behind the couch or in the garage, and you'll get skinny?  Maybe not.  But at least you won't be tempted.


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