Before we even get to the details of this really quite interesting experiment, I have to call foul on the team at the Cornell Food and Brand Laboratory in the US for using only women in their sample groups and then assuming that the male of the species would behave similarly.
Indeed, at the very heart of this research is an assumption based on previous research that indicates that cluttered and chaotic environments cause stress.
When this theory is applied specifically to kitchens however, I know from personal experience that men of all ages, from students to pensioners, are more than capable of ignoring a dirty plate or an overflowing waste bin as if such things were beyond their capacity to understand.
At the other end of that spectrum I’ve met precious few women who would be comfortable in the same building as an unwiped worktop or remnant-strewn floor.
That being said, the findings are still fascinating.
The study, published in the Journal Environment and Behaviour, divided 100 women into two groups. Half of them were to undertake a task in a pristine and organised kitchen and half in a kitchen littered with piles of dirty dishes and general clutter.
Within these environments they were then asked to describe a time when they felt either particularly in control, or totally out of control in their lives.
As they considered and communicated their recollection, they had bowls of biscuits, crackers and carrots available upon which to snack if they felt the need.
The amount of food consumed and its calorific value were recorded.
The final comparison of results showed a definite spectrum of response to both the nature of their recalled situation and the actual environment in which they found themselves. The women who described an out of control experience in the messy kitchen collectively ate twice as many biscuits as those who described being totally in control while in the clean kitchen.
Comparing the two venues the women in the clean kitchen consumed an average of 100 fewer calories than the women in the clean kitchen.
The results support the findings of other research programmes that feelings of helplessness and disorganisation can lead to poor diet, snacking and comfort eating. But this is the first research to demonstrate such an immediate and measurable impact.
Anyone who has tried to lose 100 calories on a running or cycling machine will know how significant that is and how devastating that might be to a diet if repeated day after day.
So it appears positive feelings of control are essential, along with a clean kitchen; seems to me the best solution is to exert control over your partner and have him do the cleaning, it’s a win-win.
If you enjoy finding out more about health matters then why not get the very latest news delivered fresh to your inbox every week? It's a completely FREE service so join up now, simply enter your email address below:
Please rest assured, we will never pass your email address to any other company. These emails are free and without obligation. You can unsubscribe any time you choose.