IS YOUR KITCHEN MAKING YOU FAT? Forget the Food. Research Shows Your Choice of Crockery, Fridge and Even Paint Could Be Helping to Pile on the Pounds

Article excerpt

Byline: by Lydia Slater

DO YOU consider your kitchen to be the heart of your home, where the family socialises? Does it have a TV and sound system alongside the toaster and kettle?

Perhaps you've invested in a gleaming double American-style fridge or installed a clutter-clearing pantry? Interior designers would applaud your stylish choices. But nutritionists would warn that the modern kitchen is actually making us fatter.

The statistics are telling. Every ten years since 1920, women have added on average half an inch to their busts, an inch to their waists and three-quarters of an inch to their hips.

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that more than two in three Irish woman are classed as overweight.

The Irish population is now the second fattest in Europe with levels of obesity soaring by 40 per cent over the past ten years.

Is it pure coincidence that over the same number of decades, the average kitchen has almost doubled in size and become the biggest room in the house?

Back in the Twenties, most kitchens were separate work zones where food was prepared. After the washing up was done, the lights would be turned off and the kitchen closed down until breakfast time. If you were caught with your head in the cupboard after that, it was rather embarrassing.

Nowadays, according to a recent survey for kitchen company Magnet, we spend more waking hours in the kitchen than anywhere else.

It's no longer just a place to make meals; it's somewhere we like to eat, relax, study, make phone calls and watch TV.

As a result, we hang around there in close proximity to food, munching distractedly while surfing the net, reading the papers or helping children with their homework -- and taking in hundreds of extra calories without even noticing.

Meanwhile, the countertops get cluttered up with newspapers, CDs, letters and bills and it becomes ever harder to unearth enough space to get out the chopping board -- and even more tempting to grab a bag of crisps or a handful of biscuits instead.

But according to research published in America's Annual Reviews Of Nutrition, spending more time in them isn't the only reason modern kitchens are making us fat.

China, glassware, even lighting might all be contributing to our ever-expanding waistlines.

Today's large, restaurant-style plates and bowls are undeniably more glamorous than the more we them 'eat says can by modestly proportioned plates our parents used. Unfortunately, when we cook at home, we're likely to fill them to the brim.

'Research shows that we tend to eat everything that's on our plate,' says dietitian Gaynor Bussell. 'You can trim off 200 calories a day just by using a smaller plate.' Choosing a smaller plate can equate to 2lb of weight loss in a month. Clearly there's method behind the madness of Elizabeth Hurley eating off a nursery plate using children's cutlery.

Modern glasses, too, have grown -- you only need to compare the tiny size of a pub wine glass to the oversized wine glasses we tend to use at home. If you don't want to invest in new china and glassware, the solution may be to swap around: use salad or dessert plates to serve calorific main courses and keep the big dinner plates for salad. …