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Investigate whether food is more filling when people receive it pre-cut into several pieces, and to explore potential underlying factors.
Design, Setting and Participants
Participants (N=43) were college students who took part in this study for credit. Participants completed the study in groups of 4 to 12 people. All groups got a mini bagel (approx. 42.5 grams) with cream cheese. One group got the bagel in one piece. The other two groups got the bagel cut into four pieces: for one group, pieces were spread out on the plate, and for another the pieces were kept together (distances approaching zero, such that the bagel could appear to be in one piece though cut lines were clearly visible). Experimental groups were run at different hours, one every half an hour. Groups were run at different hours of the day (early afternoon, late afternoon) to avoid differences due to time of day. Participants did not know of the existence of other groups with different conditions. Participants were instructed to finish eating the entire bagel on their plate.
Outcome Measures and Analysis
Participants reported on their fullness across 3 measures: hunger, fullness, and satiation, all measured on 9 point likert scales. They reported on fullness before and after eating the bagels. We summed up the three measures, with hunger reverse scored, and calculated a difference score between pre and post eating fullness as our dependent measure. We analyzed differences using a General Linear Model.
Increased satiety was highest when participants received the pieces close together (4.77). However, receiving the 4 pieces spread apart led to reduced satiety (2.18). Differences were significant at a .04 level: F(2,41)=3.26.
Conclusions and Implications
It appears that eating food cut into pieces on its own is no guarantee for increased satiety. If pieces were spaced having the food cut into pieces did not have a positive effect into satiety. We suspect the reason for increased satiety is the number of units being eaten, but that if the food is spread out its volume may appear lower, rather than larger, which may counterbalance the positive effect of eating pieces. Consumers themselves may benefit from cutting the food into pieces, and restaurants may contribute to people feeling fuller by serving food in several pieces. However, separating the food on the plate may undo the effects, so food pieces should remain together.