The effect of pistachio shells as a visual cue in reducing caloric consumption

Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):418-20. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.06.003. Epub 2011 Jun 17.


It was hypothesized that pistachio shells left in sight as visual cues of consumption will cause individuals to consume less. A convenience sample of faculty and staff at a mid-western university (n=118) were recruited as subjects for the study. The subjects were told they were going to evaluate a variety of brands of pistachios and were surveyed at the end of each day to determine their fullness and satisfaction. The subjects were offered pistachios on their desks for an 8-h period on two separate days and were able to consume the pistachios at their leisure during that time. Subjects began each day with a sixteen ounce bowl filled with four ounces of pistachios in the shell. They were also provided with a second sixteen ounce bowl, in which they were instructed to place the empty shells from the pistachios they consumed. Every 2 h throughout the day pistachios were added in two ounce increments. In condition one, the shells remained in the bowls until the end of the day, whereas in condition two, the shell bowls were emptied every 2 h throughout the day. In condition one, subjects consumed an average of 216 calories. In condition two, subjects consumed an average of 264 calories, a difference of 48 calories. Subjects in condition one consumed significantly (p≤.05) fewer calories, yet fullness and satisfaction ratings were not significantly (p≥.05) different between conditions. Leaving pistachio shells as a visual cue to consumption may help consumers consume fewer calories.

Learning outcomes: Individuals will be aware of the impact of visual cues of dietary intake on total food consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cues*
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuts*
  • Pistacia*