Research in humans has shown the size of food bowls, plates
and utensils can significantly impact the amount of food portioned and
consumed. This effect can be attributed to both the Delboeuf optical illusion
and the Ebbinghaus-Titchener size-contrast illusion.
To investigate the existence of a similar effect with dog
owners, 54 dogs and their owners were recruited for a four-treatment randomized
prospective trial. Owners scooped out a normal kibble-based meal using a small
bowl and small scoop, small bowl and large scoop, large bowl and small scoop or
large bowl and large scoop. Each treatment was used once per owner over four
Repeated measures revealed
the mean amount of food portioned using the small bowl and small scoop was
significantly less than all other bowl and scoop combinations (150.7 g vs.
171.5 g vs. 172.7 g vs. 184.5 g, respectively). The small bowl and large scoop
combination did not differ from large bowl and small scoop. Owners were more
likely to portion a larger amount of food with a large bowl and large scoop.
Results are consistent with human data and emphasize the
need for owners to use standard measuring cups. Results also suggest owner
compliance during weight loss programs may be improved with smaller bowls and
Source: M. Murphy et al.,
2011. Size of food bowl and scoop affects amount of food owners feed their
dogs. JAPAN online April 2011. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0396.2011.01144.x
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