New Study Finds Surprising Reason to Keep Your Kitchen Tidy


Can a cluttered kitchen have an impact on your waistline? A new study suggests that may be the case. Igor Kisselev/www.close-up.biz/Getty Images
Can a cluttered kitchen have an impact on your waistline? A new study suggests that may be the case. Igor Kisselev/www.close-up.biz/Getty Images

Perhaps you're the neat freak at home, picking up after your kids, roommates or spouse. Perhaps you're sick and tired of asking for a tidy living space for hygienic or aesthetic reasons. Perhaps you want some cold, hard facts to back up your position on the Felix-Oscar spectrum.

Take all your perhapses and arrange them neatly in a drawer, along with everything else: A new study just published in the journal Environment and Behavior finds that a cluttered kitchen can lead to over-snacking.

Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab observed 98 women individually to track their response to stress and clutter. The women were sent to one of either two kitchens, and told to wait for someone to arrive. Half were placed into kitchens cluttered with newspapers on the counters, dishes in the sink, and with a telephone ringing. Half went instead to a neat, well-organized kitchen. Both kitchens had bowls of cookies, crackers and carrots available for snacking.

The researchers also asked some of the women in the messy kitchen to write about a time in their life that was stressful, while some of those in the neat kitchen were asked to describe a time they felt in control.

The study found that the women in the stress-inducing, untidy kitchen consumed twice as many cookies in 10 minutes than the other group did, for an average margin of 53 calories more.

“Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diets," says lead author Lenny Vartanian, now an associate psychology professor at Australia's University of New South Wales, in a press release. "It seems to lead people to think, 'Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn't I be?' I suspect the same would hold with males."

So next time you ask your housemates to do the dishes, remind them: Your very health, and waistline, could depend on it.