Dieting? This Art Can Help
Study found people ate less after seeing skinny Giacometti images
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2017 10:09 AM CST
A file photo of Alberto Giacometti’s life-size “Pointing Man."   (Christie’s Images Ltd. /2015 Alberto Giacometti Estate/Licensed by VAGA and ARS, New York/ Copyright 2015 Visko Hatfield via AP)
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(Newser) – If dropping some weight was among your New Year's resolutions, here's a tip: Visit an art museum. Writing in the journal Appetite, researchers say "dieting cues in the environment" can help people eat less. Arguing that dieters are often sabotaged by societal pressures, researchers set out to test whether images in art could curb eating. Scientists exposed participants in two studies to the bone-thin statues of Alberto Giacometti, "less attractive" representations of the human body that would be considered "seriously underweight" if they actually represented how we look, explains author Aline Stampfli per Time. In the first study, the team showed 114 people Giacometti's Piazza projected on a wall. A control group did not see the image of the elongated figures.

Afterward, both groups were fed chocolate and blueberries, but the group that saw the image ate less. A second study divided 60 people into two groups and asked those who saw Giacometti images to list the first words that sprang to mind. Those considered "restrained eaters," meaning they had dieted often, listed more weight-related words than their counterparts who didn't see the images. Gazing at Giacometti prompted viewers to make more connections to weight and eat less, the researchers concluded in the latest of several studies on the "Giacometti effect." But anyone seeking to lose extra pounds need not seek out only Giacometti. Other sorts of "weight-control cues" in the environment are worth studying further, they write, and "could nudge food decisions in a healthier direction." (Another unusual way to stay slim? Stool transplants.)

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