Interview with Prof. Brian Wansink

June 2015

Have you ever heard about Prof. Brian Wansink, also known as the « Sherlock Holmes of food » ? He is THE American professor, founder of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, expert in eating behavior.

We have been very much attentive to his work published in his previous book Mindless eating : why we eat more than what we think which is a survey of the research he has led such as his experiments on how a larger bowl size increases the amount of cereal children will ask , how the use of taller glasses avoids the over pouring of alcohol, how the music or color of the room has an impact on how much and how fast we eat, and much more …

At Slow Control, we were eager to acknowledge what his latest book Slim by Design aspired bringing live a new vision on how to set up your environment to eat better without thinking about it and social activism !

1. Could you please explain how your vision and your research has progressed in the last 20 years based on the know-how that you have built?

20 years ago my focus was to show how food companies, manufacturers could help consumers eat healthier and in smaller portions.  Now, my focus has changed to how the environment influences how much people eat and what they can do by adopting small changes.

My newest book Slim by Design compared to the book Mindless eating : why we eat more than what we think which targets consumers is focusing on institutions. Institutions such as schools, restaurants, grocery stores must play the role of helping people to eat better.

2. How do you feel the environment (politics, food companies, consumers) is responding to all these discoveries?

I feel that the environment is responding very positively. Now the consumers are aware about the fact that they eat too much but they should really make the change not just think about it.  Regarding the institutions, they have to feel that someone gave it a try already. If one company jumps in, than everyone follows !

3. Who do you think your last book Slim by Design could help and why? 

My last book Slim by Design could help people in different environments starting with homes, restaurants, schools. Consumers should start spreading the word and suggest changes to these different places. Hence, consumers will be guided to make healthier choices.
It is easier to be slim by design rather than slim by willpower.

4. Most mindless people think they are mindful. Is it achievable for a mindless person to become mindful?

I personally believe that less than 5% of the population stays on diet. For the rest of us, we can’t do it. This is the reason why it is easier to adapt to an environment without thinking about it. Such easy mindless changes could be to avoid leaving some food on the counter and too prefer small plates.


Brian Wansink website:

Brian Wansink last book: