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Why do environmental factors influence consumption volume? The environment can be organized into two categories: the eating environment and the food environment. The former includes atmospheric factors that are not associated with the actual food itself such as the effort of obtaining the food, lighting, socializing, and eating distractions. The latter refers to the presentation of the food such the structure and variety of food assortments, portion sizes, and shapes of plates, glasses, and bowls.
The environment plays a major role in determining consumption volume because it affects the accuracy of consumption monitoring and alters consumption norms. Consumption norms and consumption monitoring partially mediate or explain why many seemingly unrelated environmental factors consistently influence eating behavior in predictable ways.
Four important drivers in the eating environment are discussed: 1) eating atmospherics, 2) eating effort, 3) eating with others, and 4) eating distractions. Atmospherics influence eating duration. Increased effort decreases consumption. Socializing influences meal duration and consumption norms. Distractions (such as watching TV or reading while eating) can initiate, obscure, and extend consumption.
In regards to the food environment five factors are discussed: 1) salience, 2) variety, 3) package and portion sizes, 4) stockpiling, and 5) size of serving containers. Salient food promotes salient hunger. Increasing perceived variety can increase consumption. The size of packages and portions suggest consumption norms. Stockpiled food is quickly consumed. Serving containers that are wide or large create consumption illusions.-
Wansink, Brian (2004). Environmental Factors that Increase the Food Intake and Consumption Volume of Unknowing Consumers. Annual Review of Nutrition, 24, 455–479. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.24.012003.132140