Ripple Effect for Cancer Prevention

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Do you ever engage in “mindless eating?”

According to Brian Wansink of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Americans often do.  And it typically leads to overeating and eventually overweight and obesity.

At the “Food for Your Whole Life” Symposium in NYC these last 2 days, there’s been lots of discussion about how we make and sustain lifestyle changes – or don’t.  We’ve heard about everything from wholesale changes (a rancher who switched to a vegan diet) to small steps that add up over time.  All for the purpose of better health now as well as preventing chronic diseases caused by obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Dr. Wansink introduced the concept of a “ripple effect.”  It’s about building on small successes.  He described a pilot study his group recently conducted with 2000 participants who chose small changes to make in their diet for three months.  Each group made one small change in their eating behavior, and that’s it.

Even though they weren’t making any effort to lose weight those who chose the change of using smaller plates at meals lost an average of almost 2 lbs during that time.  The individuals who made the decision to only eat in the kitchen or dining room lost an average of 1.5 lbs.

That’s interesting, but the best part is that the weight loss was 53% higher in the 3rd month than in the 1st month.  The reason?  The participants reported making other small changes throughout the 3 months.  As they made simple changes and were able to sustain that, they added other changes.  A ripple effect of one small change.

To begin your own ripple effect see AICR’s tips on making small changes in your diet for cancer prevention.

Let us know what small change you’ve made to move toward a healthier lifestyle.


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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