FL: What were some of the things you did in Albert Lea to improve health?

DB: We worked with Brian Wansink, who wrote a book called Mindless Eating , from the Cornell Food Lab. He worked with us to create a process by which all people pledged to optimize their kitchens so they'd naturally eat less food or better food. For example, we sourced 10-inch plates so it was very easy to replace your 14-inch plates with 10-inch plates. Why did we do that? Because we know that people who eat off of smaller plates consume fewer calories over the course of a day. Every meal, they consume 20 to 25 percent fewer calories. Making that one environmental change makes a difference.

We weren't food Nazis saying, "Don't have any junk food around here." We're all going to have junk food around. But where you put that junk food in your kitchen has a profound impact on what you eat. So creating a space where you have to stoop down and it's out of sight. Giving in to those kind of habits has a measurable drop in how much junk food you eat.

We know from Okinawa that the person who provides food for the family, if the food is pre-plated at the counter, as opposed to served family style, the number of calories and the quality of those calories goes up. So we worked with Brian Wansink to create a countertop advertisement that you place, just a small reminder to pre-plate food. That uses some of his food marketing concepts. And all they had to do was agree to display the thing. "For the time you're participating in the project, we want the sign on your counter. Do you agree to do that?" Yes. Boom, that's all they had to do. But we know that when you're constantly reminded, it changes behaviors. And it's mindless: You put it there once, and you're done.


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