Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

In a way, this is the book that I hoped Buyology would be. Wansink is a food researcher and has conducted a wealth of studies to explore what causes people to eat more than they should.

What doesn't? From plate size, to fancy menu listings to who we eat with to the speed at which we eat, it seems like everyone and everything is conspiring to make us eat more.

Because there are so many ways that we are influenced, Wansink proposes, for those trying to lose weight, to focus on one or two ways and make gradual changes.

The reason why I compare this book to Buyology is that like that book, Mindless Eating explores how external factors influence our decisions, usually unbeknownst to us. Whereas in Buyology, Lindstrom spends as much time touting how great he and his work are, Wansink actually appears like the researcher he is and lets the research speak for itself. Wansink also has had his results published in journals, lending much more credence to their legitimacy compared to the work Lindstrom has done.

Wansink is a far more entertaining writer than Lindstrom. For being in academia, his writing is very light and easy to read. Almost too much so given the wealth of information he imparts. I'm writing this review several weeks after I read the book and find that I don't remember as much of it as I would hope. Not good to go mindless when dealing with mindless eating.

It may have been, too, that I was frustrated with how cool of a job Wansink has and why, as a kid, you never hear about things like professional food researcher as possible things to grow up and be. Getting to come up with studies to figure out why people eat a lot? That actually sounds like fun to me. I don't actually think my frustration influenced my enjoyment of the book but what do I know?

Make sure you check out his website. It's pretty good and covers a lot of the material in the book.


--Transfixed Ingress said...

I don't know shelly - but her comment reads like spam. Beware. Not my point.

I've been reading one of your favorite authors, Marty Lindstrom. Not Buyology - although your bashing has me curious. No I'm reading the latest trash, Brandwashing. I find it interesting - even without the primary references. Only a few chapters in and there hasn't been much of a point other than advertisers are manipulative (big surprise there). Anyway, not as bad (so far) as you've made him out to be. I'm actually engrossed whereas referencing details of a study would definitely put me to sleep. So far so good. Maybe I'm just more naive and trusting - or maybe the anecdotal evidence resonates enough to just be believable. At least so far. Just my 2 cents.

Mad Guru said...

Keep in mind that my review of Lindstrom is of his one book. He seems to be highly regarded. And I like to think I have higher standards than most in demanding proof of legitimacy. Just because something is said in a book or on Wikipedia doesn't mean it's true. I like to see research results that have been peer-reviewed and published. I like to see others in the field citing the works of the researcher. If you work is so good, you shouldn't be telling me about it, your peers should be. That was my problem with Buyology. It was too self-congratulatory.