Brian Wansink

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Brian Wansink
Brian Wansink USDA 12-2007.jpg
Wansink in 2007.
BornJune 28, 1960
Sioux City, Iowa
FieldsConsumer behavior, nutritional science, marketing, quackery
InstitutionsUSDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Food and Brand Lab, Cornell University
Known forFood behavior and psychology
Notable awardsABC World News Person of the Week(January 4) 2008; Fitness magazine's "Fit 50" 2008; Ig Nobel Prize, 2007
 
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Brian Wansink
Brian Wansink USDA 12-2007.jpg
Wansink in 2007.
BornJune 28, 1960
Sioux City, Iowa
FieldsConsumer behavior, nutritional science, marketing, quackery
InstitutionsUSDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Food and Brand Lab, Cornell University
Known forFood behavior and psychology
Notable awardsABC World News Person of the Week(January 4) 2008; Fitness magazine's "Fit 50" 2008; Ig Nobel Prize, 2007

Brian Wansink (born 1960) is an American professor in the fields of consumer behavior and nutritional science. He is a former Executive Director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) (2007–2009).

Wansink is best known for his work on consumer behavior and food and for popularizing terms such as "mindless eating" and "health halos." His research has focused on how our immediate environment (supermarkets, packaging, homes, pantries, and tablescapes) influences eating habits and preferences. Wansink holds the John S. Dyson Endowed Chair in the Applied Economics and Management Department at Cornell University. He is the author of over 100 academic articles and books, including the best-selling book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think and Marketing Nutrition (2005) . He is a 2007 recipient of the humorous Ig Nobel Prize and was named ABC World News Person of the Week[1] on January 4, 2008.

Having been referred to as the "Sherlock Holmes of Food"[2] and the "Wizard of Why",[3] Wansink and his Food and Brand Lab have been credited with improving the deeper scientific understanding of food eating and food shopping. A fundamental finding is that our environment—such as the way a food is labeled, presented, stored, or served—biases our eating habits and taste preferences. A large part of eating less and eating better, he argues, involves making small changes to our homes and to the daily "mindless" patterns of our lives. In underscoring this, the first and last sentence of his book, Mindless Eating states, "The best diet is the one you don't know you're on."

The studies from the lab have been credited with the development of the 100 calorie packs and the Small Plate Movement, as well as discovering and quantifying a wide range of basic, every day insights:

Biography[edit]

Wansink was born in Sioux City, Iowa of Dutch heritage, to John, a bakery production worker, and to Naomi, a legal secretary. He received his Ph.D. in Consumer behaviour in 1990 from Stanford University, following a B.S. from Wayne State College (Nebraska) in 1982 and an M.A. from Drake University in 1984.

He was a Marketing Professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (1990–1994) and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1995–1997), and he was a Marketing, Nutritional Science, Advertising, and Agricultural Economics Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1997–2005) before moving to Cornell University (2005 to date). Wansink has also been a Visiting Professor at the Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam) and Insead (Fountainbleau, France), and he was a Visiting Research Scientist at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick, MA) where he helped design ways to improve the acceptability and consumption of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) for the United States Army.

Wansink founded the Food and Brand Lab[3] in 1997 at the University of Illinois and the Consumer Education Foundation in 1999. In 2005 he moved both to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Since 2006, Wansink has written a monthly column on food behavior for MSNBC entitled Chew on This.[11] In July 2007, Wansink joined Prevention.com as one of their two nutrition columnists, writing the column Food Think with Wansink.[12]

From 2007-2009, Wansink was granted a leave of absence from Cornell to accept a White House appointment as the fourth Executive Director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). At CNPP, he oversaw the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the Healthy Eating Index, the Cost of Raising a Child Index, and he is charged with promoting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in the form of MyPyramid. He served with the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Nancy Montanez Johner.

In 2011, Wansink was elected to a one-year-term as president of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior .

Works[edit]

A consumer psychologist, Wansink[13] is best known for his work on food psychology and eating behavior. This work focuses on how the environment leads or even tricks people into buying and eating food in ways they are unaware. While some of these insights are directed toward responsible food manufacturers and marketers,[14] the majority are focused specifically at parents, dieters, and at the medical and nutrition community. Using a combination of lab studies and field studies, he has used movie popcorn, refillable soup bowls, bartender glasses, candy dishes, Chinese buffets, and ice cream socials to show how various environment cues influence the food intake of unknowing consumers.[15] Although such environmental factors appear unrelated, they generally influence intake by inhibiting consumption monitoring and by suggesting alternative consumption norms.[16]

In contrast to focusing on the macro-food environment as being the cause of the American obesity problem, Wansink's work focuses on the intermediate micro-environment that he contends people can control—their home and their daily habits. In counterpoint to social criticism of the obesigenic nature of our "foodscape," recent work has focused on the more promising changes that can be made in what Wansink refers to as the obesigenic nature of our "kitchenscapes" and "tablescapes."[17]

In examining the wider range of what is referred to as "mindless eating," Wansink has made contributions to three principal areas of food-related consumption: consumption norms, taste evaluation, and food selection.

Consumption Norms[edit]

Consumption norms are influenced by the wide range of factors that can bias an unknowing person to eat or drink more than they otherwise would. For instance, the size of a serving bowl, a plate, or a package has repeatedly been shown to bias how much a person serves himself and eats by an average of 20-30%.[18] In addition, the perceived variety (color of candies) in an assortment and the proximity of candy on one’s desk has been shown to double how much a person eats over the course of a day.[15] Because people are estimated to make over 200 food-related decisions a day that they are unaware of making, the seemingly inconsequential impact of lighting, plate size, glass shape, music, companion, table arrangement, and dining companion can have a sizable impact on daily food intake.[6] Over the course of year, even a 200 calorie daily change in how much one eats would translate into a 20 pound loss in weight or a 20 pound gain in weight.

Taste Evaluation[edit]

The extent to which people enjoy food can be influenced by subtle environmental cues. The names of a food can create either positive or negative predispositions that can unfairly bias a person's perceived taste of a food. Wansink shows this is one reason why advertising or promoting a food as "healthy" unfairly biases people against the taste of a food.[19] Yet using names and visual cues to guide a person's expectations can also enhance their perceived taste of a food. In one study, simply labeling a food as being a Succulent Italian Seafood Filet lead restaurant goers to much more favorably rate the taste than when it was simply labeled Seafood Filet.[20] Similarly, the elegance of dishes and the garnishes on plates has been shown to influence a person’s taste ratings of a food.[15]

Food Selection[edit]

The food a person eats at a given time is related to sensory issues, but it is also related to how appropriate they perceive this food for that situation. People are more likely to adopt a food into a new situation (say, eating soup for breakfast) if they focus on the benefits of the food instead of on how it differs from prototypical breakfast foods.[21][22] Food selection has also been linked to favorable past memories of food. This has been suggested as to why men tend to claim their favorite comfort foods are meal-related foods, such as steak, pasta, and soup, while women prefer the more convenient foods, such as ice cream, chocolate, and cookies. For men, meal-related comfort foods evoke feelings of nurturing and attention. Yet for women they evoke memories of preparation and clean-up.[23]

Ig Nobel Prize[edit]

The Bottomless Bowl Principle

Brian Wansink is a 2007 recipient of the Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition. The Ig Nobel prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prize and are awarded for achievements (or sometimes veiled criticisms thereof) that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." Wansink's award was issued for investigating people's appetite for mindless eating by secretly feeding them a self-refilling bowl of soup. It has come to be known as the Bottomless Bowl Principle.[24]

Books[edit]

Selected works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Brian Wansink, 'Nutrition Swami' - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  2. ^ Kelly D. Brownell (Ph.D), Director Rudd Center for Obesity, Yale University http://www.mindlesseating.org/reviews.htm.
  3. ^ "'Mindless Eating' is a nourishing read". Eurekalert.org. 2006-11-22. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  4. ^ "The Perils of Plate Size: Waist, Waste, and Wallet (2008), Brian Wansink and Koert van Ittersum, Journal of Marketing (under advanced review).
  5. ^ "Super Bowls: Serving Bowl Size and Food Consumption," (2005) JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association, Brian Wansink and Matthew M. Cheney, 293:14 (April 13), 1727–1728.
  6. ^ a b “Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook,” (2007) Environment and Behavior, Brian Wansink and Jeffrey Sobal, 39:1 (January), 106-23.
  7. ^ "Can Low-Fat Nutrition Labels Lead to Obesity? (2006), Brian Wansink and Pierre Chandon, Journal of Marketing Research 43:4 (November), 605-17..
  8. ^ "Nutritional Gatekeepers and the 72% Solution,” (2006) Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Brian Wansink 106:9 (September), 1324–1327
  9. ^ "Shape of Glass and Amount of Alcohol Poured: Comparative Study of Effect of Practice and Concentration," (2005) BMJ – British Medical Journal, Brian Wansink and Koert van Ittersum, 331:7531 (December 24) 1512–1514.
  10. ^ "When are Stockpiled Products Consumed Faster? A Convenience-Salience Framework of Post-purchase Consumption Incidence and Quantity," (2002) Journal of Marketing Research, Pierre Chandon and Brian Wansink, 39:3 (August), 321–335.
  11. ^ 11:27 a.m. ET (2006-12-19). "Brian Wansink, Ph.D. - Health- msnbc.com". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  12. ^ "Expert Center". Prevention.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ Marketing Nutrition – Soy, Functional Foods, Biotechnology, and Obesity, Champaign (2005), Brian Wansink, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  15. ^ a b c Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (2006), Brian Wansink New York: Bantam-Dell.
  16. ^ "Environmental Factors that Increase the Food Intake and Consumption Volume of Unknowing Consumers," (2004) Annual Review of Nutrition, Brian Wansink, Volume 24, 455–479.
  17. ^ “Kitchenscapes, Tablescapes, Platescapes, and Foodscapes: Influences of Microscale Built Environments on Food Intake, Environment and Behavior," (2007) Environment and Behavior, Jeffery Sobal and Brian Wansink, 39:1 (January), 124-42.
  18. ^ "Can Package Size Accelerate Usage Volume?" (1996) Journal of Marketing, Brian Wansink, Vol. 60:3 (July), 1–14.
  19. ^ Marketing Nutrition – Soy, Functional Foods, Biotechnology, and Obesity, Champaign (2005), Brian Wansink, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  20. ^ "How Descriptive Food Names Bias Sensory Perceptions in Restaurants,” (2005) Food Quality and Preference, Brian Wansink, Koert van Ittersum, and James E. Painter, 16:5, 393-400.
  21. ^ "Advertising Strategies to Influence the Usage Frequency of Healthy Foods," (1996), Journal of Marketing, Brian Wansink and Michael L. Ray (1996), “Advertising Strategies to Increase Usage Frequency,” Journal of Marketing, 60:1 (January), 31-46.
  22. ^ “Advertising’s Impact on Category Substitution,” (1994), Journal of Marketing Research, Brian Wansink, 31:4 (November), 505-515.
  23. ^ "Exploring Comfort Food Preferences Across Gender and Age," (2003) Physiology and Behavior, Brian Wansink, Matthew M. Cheney, and Nina Chan, 79:4–5, 739–747.
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ http://www.mindlesseating.org/pdf/downloads/SuperBowls-JAMA_2005.pdf

External links[edit]