The 20-lb. cereal box on your counter

What you have on your counter is a good indicator of the size of your waistline

The food on your counter can predict your weight — especially if it’s cereal or soft drinks.

Over 200 American kitchens were photographed to determine if the food sitting out on counters could predict the weight of the woman living in each home. The new Cornell study found that women who had breakfast cereal sitting on their counters weighed 20 lbs. more than their neighbours who didn’t, and those with soft drinks sitting out weighed 24 to 26 lbs. more. The good news? Those who had a fruit bowl weighed about 13 lbs. less.

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“It’s your basic See-Food Diet; you eat what you see,” said lead author Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. “As a cereal lover, that shocked me. Cereal has a health halo, but if you eat a handful every time you walk by, it’s not going to make you skinny.”

Although the study cautions that the findings are correlational, Wansink says, “We’ve got a saying in our lab, ‘If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do.’ If skinny people make their homes ‘Slim by Design’ by clearing the counters of everything but the fruit bowl, it won’t hurt us to do the same.”

The forthcoming study — dubbed “The Syracuse Study,” because all of the photographed households were in Syracuse, N.Y. — is published in the journal Health Education and Behavior.

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