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Study: Utensil Choice Affects Food Taste, Portion Sizes

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The utensils used to eat can have an effect on the taste and amount of food that people consume. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The utensils used to eat can have an effect on the taste and amount of food that people consume. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – The utensils used to eat can have an effect on the taste and amount of food that people consume.

Junior researcher Vanessa Harrar and psychologist Charles Spence from the University of Oxford found that the color of a utensil, kind of utensil and material of a utensil can all factor into how food tastes or feels in people’s mouths.

Previous studies had shown that tableware can affect the taste of a food such as a glass with a blue or green color makes a drink more thirst-quenching.

The researchers conducted several experiments varying the weight, size, shape and color of the cutlery and assessed the impact of the changes on the participants based on the ratings they give to the same food.

Published in the journal Flavour, the study found that when yogurt was eaten from a plastic spoon, those studied reported that it tasted “denser and more expensive,” while the yogurt eaten from a heavier teaspoon was “least dense, least expensive.”

In a press release, Dr. Vanessa Harrar and Charles Spence, who performed this study, said: “How we experience food is a multi-sensory experience involving taste, feel of the food in our mouths, aroma, and the feasting of our eyes. Even before we put food into our mouths our brains have made a judgment about it, which affects our overall experience.”

They chose 35 participants who were no informed that they were served the same food and were asked to rate them using the 9-point Likert scales according to sweetness, saltiness, expensiveness, and overall food taste.

“Subtly changing eating implements and tableware can affect how pleasurable, or filling, food appears,” study researcher Dr. Vanessa Harrar said in a statement.

The findings could be used to “help control eating patterns such as portion size or how much salt is added to food. Alternatively, people may be able to make better food choices if their ingrained color associations are disrupted by less constant advertising and packaging.”

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