“The results of our study suggest that the openness of a floor plan, among many other factors, can affect how much we eat,” said Kim Rollings, Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, US.
“Eating in an ‘open concept kitchen,’ with greater visibility and convenience of food access, can set off a chain reaction. We are more likely to get up and head toward the food more often, serve more food and eat more food,” Rollings said.
The study, published in the journal Environment and Behavior, involved 57 college students in the Food and Brand Lab at the Cornell University.
The researchers made use of folding screens to manipulate the arrangement of kitchen and dining areas during the service of buffet-style meals, and two-way mirrors for the unobtrusive observation of variously sized groups of student diners.
Rollings noticed that each time college students in the study got up to get more food, they ended up eating an average of 170 more calories in the “open” than in the “closed” floor-plan kitchen.
“Considering that decreasing calorie consumption by 50 to 100 calories per day can reduce or avoid the average annual weight gain of one to two pounds among US adults, these results have important implications for designers of and consumers in residential kitchens; college, workplace and school cafeterias and dining areas; and buffet-style restaurants,” she noted.