Seeing Red For Weight Loss?
December 6, 2013

Seeing Red For Weight Loss?

When I was a little girl, I did not eat anything purple. I would not eat purple candy, drink purple juice or soda, have purple jam, or even eat fruits or veggies that were more purple. I just did not like the idea of something purple in my mouth. I cannot explain this. Eventually, I outgrew that, but still today when I see purple foods I have a moment of the thought of, “I’m not eating that.” Then, I come back to reality and remember how silly that is.

However, it is not silly for everyone. I have an aunt who simply will not eat red foods nor from red dinnerware. Period. Never. And it turns out that there may be some correlation between how much food we consume and the color red. CNN recently published information that shows a connection between eating less and eating off of a red plate. Specifically, the study showed that people consumed less when they were served from red plates.

Previous research speculated that color contrast might influence how much people consume, but a new study shows that it is not contrast so much as it is simply the color red.

The CNN article explains what the study did:

“In the new study, volunteers rated the saltiness of popcorn, nuttiness of chocolate and stickiness of hand cream.

Each person received a pre-measured sample of a product on a plate that was one of three colors — red, white or blue. The volunteers munched and moisturized as much as they liked while they filled out their answers. Of the 240 participants, 90 taste-tested popcorn, and 75 each sampled the chocolate chips and hand cream.

Each survey also included a question to check how much testers liked the product, since this may have triggered them to eat or use more. After the experiments, researchers measured how much the testers had consumed.

The authors also measured differences in the color intensity and contrasts of foods, cream and plates. Data in hand, they tested whether differences in people’s consumption correlated with differences in color contrast.”

What the researchers found was that contrast had little to do with actual consumption. In short, people simply ate less or used less lotion when the products came to them on red plates.

Now, the study does not prove that using red plates will decrease consumption specifically because the study participants were unaware of the real reasons for the tests, and no study has tested whether people eat more or less with plate color when they know that was the purpose of the study. In other words, the study’s participants may have consumed less from red unconsciously. What will happen when participants know that they are being studied to see from which color plate they eat more or less? This is the next step in understanding how color affects consumption.

Why red? The CNN article did not mention much about this. In fact, it does not discuss this at all. All I can think about is wondering why the color red. I hypothesize it has something to do with red being the color of blood, but it could also be because it is so bright. Perhaps it has something to do with the brain. Yellow stimulates memory, so maybe red stimulates appetite suppressant. In any case, this study shows that, at the very least, there is a correlation between consumption and the color red.

Back to my aunt. She never eats red foods, and she is both fit and healthy. I’m not saying that red has kept her that way, but this study shows that perhaps part of her health comes from the fact that she likely consumes less because she avoids eating red foods and using red plates.

Isn’t research fascinating?

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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