“Mirror, mirror on the wall”: Can visual illusions be used to ‘trick’ people into eating less?
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Given the growing obesity crisis in many parts of the world, and given the seeming failure of conventional strategies to curb it, researchers are increasingly looking to visual illusions, and other ‘tricks of the mind’, in order to try and help convince us that we are eating more than is, in fact, the case. The hope is that such approaches may help convince people to be satisfied with less. One of the novel solutions that has been proposed recently involves the use of mirrored plateware to double the amount of food that the diner sees placed before them. But will such solutions really help curb our appetites in either the short-, or more importantly, the long-term? And how does this approach compare to other strategies involving the use of the Delboeuf illusion, crinkly curved plateware, and even augmented reality solutions to making smaller portions look a little more substantial? While the idea that mirrored plateware will make us eat less might sound fanciful to some, it is worth pausing for a moment, before dismissing the idea, to consider the effects that mirror therapy have been reported to have on the relief of phantom limb pain, chronic regional pain syndrome, etc. What is more, several published studies have demonstrated that eating in front of a mirror large enough to reflect the person eating can indeed affect taste and consumption – though the direction and magnitude of these effects appears to depend on the food (healthy or not), and who, exactly, is doing the eating (e.g., are they obese and/or concerned about their weight).