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Want to lose weight? Watch where you put what you eat
Recent research looked into how the location of food affects people's dietary choices. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Out of sight, out of stomach? A recent study, published last month in the International Journal of Obesity (paywall), found that where you store your food at home could hold consequences for your waistline.

"It doesn't take a big leap of faith to say if you're spending most of your time where there's more food sitting out to see, that's going to make it harder not to eat," said Charles Emery, the study's lead researcher and a psychologist at The Ohio State University, to NPR.

Emery and his team spent the last three years investigating how home environments influence eating behaviors. After visiting the homes of 100 participants, they concluded that obese people are more likely to keep snacks spread throughout their living space.

Although researchers could only show correlation between food placement and obesity without determining causation, Emery told NPR he's hopeful that his study will pave the way for future exploration into how kitchen or pantry design could encourage healthy eating.

"He wants to see if people will eat less or eat healthier just by reorganizing their spaces so they aren't outfitting their favorite spots with their favorite snacks," NPR reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "more than one-third (34.9 percent or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese," which means they have a body-mass index over 30. The home environment study joins a broader effort in the scientific community to pinpoint the causes of Americans' unhealthiest eating habits in order to solve this obesity epidemic.

Already, locations like restaurants, grocery stores and movie theaters have become testing grounds for new policies aimed at encouraging better food choices.

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized new rules about the display of calorie counts at gas stations, theaters and other retail establishments, noting it wanted to equip consumers with the tools to make smarter choices, Deseret News National reported at the time.

And in March, The New York Times published a piece exploring the implications of the layout of grocery stores. Two former policymakers shared their sense that encouraging healthy eating could be as easy as putting nutritious food "within sight and reach."

Although it can be difficult to keep track of the latest food research, individual eaters can derive big benefits from being smart about their snacking. As The Washington Post reported last week, exercise alone rarely pays off at weigh-in, even if fitness challenges are often more fun than remembering to keep candy out of sight.
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