Trying to lose weight?  Put your kitchen counter tops to work!

If you are trying to lose weight, here is perhaps one of the easiest things you can do:  Clear your kitchen countertops of all food except maybe fresh fruit.  It may have a bigger effect than you’d imagine.  Get this:

Cornell researchers studied hundreds of American households, recording the height and weight of each family member, and the types of foods that were visible on their kitchen countertops.  They found that, on average, people in homes with fresh fruit sitting out had lower body weights.  People living in homes with foods like cereal, candy, dried fruit, granola bars, or soft drinks visible had higher body weights.  How much higher?   9.4-14.4Kg, on average!  That’s not a typo.  That’s 20-31 pounds more among people with food-filled countertops!

The researchers hypothesize that people are more likely to snack when food is visible and easy to grab.  If that food is fresh fruit, it may promote weight loss.  But if the food is more processed or calorically dense, then weight gain may follow.

Granted, these were just correlational studies, and don’t prove that having snack foods visible caused the weight differences.  But they do suggest that clearing your countertops may be worth a try. 

If you have extra inventory of processed foods during COVID lockdown (e.g., “emergency snacks” or “if-the-world-as-we-know-it-is-ending -then-I’m-eating-cookies-darnit snacks”), consider storing the extra in your closet, basement or other places where you won’t constantly see them.  Anecdotally, lots of people are reporting gaining weight from eating their lockdown supplies.  So put them where you won’t always be looking at them:  Out of sight, out of mind, out of the mouth, off of belly.

Here’s the study if you’re curious about the details:


Wansink B, Hanks AS, Kaipainen K. Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity. Health Educ Behav. 2016;43(5):552-558. doi:10.1177/1090198115610571