Shaming Your Way to Weight Loss

One of my colleagues told me that he keeps his treats (currently, chocolate covered popcorn) in another colleague’s office. That makes him less likely to nosh, because he has to walk down the hall to get the treats. I pointed out that he has raised the fixed cost of noshing, which will indeed reduce the number of incidents of noshing; but each time he goes to his colleague’s office, he will eat more. Probably less in total, but more binging. He admitted that this policy of raising costs might not be a good self-control mechanism, except that it is embarrassing to have the other colleague watch him pigging out on the treats. Fear of shame and embarrassment, rather than the fixed cost of walking down the hall, is the bigger deterrent to excess eating.


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  1. JohnMcG says:

    That’s good, because I’ve long thought that the reason we have an obesity problem is that we don’t do enough to make fat people feel bad about themselves.

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  2. Zaglossus says:

    The result will depend upon one’s business and the type of relationship with the colleague.
    1) business precludes your walking into colleague’s office at any moment to retrieve desired snack… net may be decreased in noshing.
    2) retrieval means unable to retrieve more than 1 handful – no bowls, napkins, plates for larger portions – that must be brought back to one’s own office. If the “stash” is in (very) large containers, this will likely decrease intake. (As cited in Wasink’s work, we tend to eat a percentage of the container, regardless of the container’s size. Hence, if large container is in own office, this will decrease one’s snacking intake.
    3) great buddy and each entrance will result in both snacking – likely both will increase girth.

    Even better – make certain that colleague MAKES you measure and log what you take to eat. This will is even better if you log in time and mood/activity (bored, hungry, anxious, …)

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  3. Sriram says:

    Interesting on the face of it. Doesn’t sound logical though.

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  4. Brian S says:

    So he’s motivated enough to stash the treats in a place where he will have to endure shame to get them, but not motivated enough to eschew purchasing and stashing them in the first place? Seems like a failed plan from the start.

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  5. Richard Simmons says:

    Has your friend ever heard of resource allocation? Color cards that are used to limit consumption?

    Not my idea, richard simmons’ idea.

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  6. Itamar says:

    I’ve been told the best way to loose weight is shaking your head from left to right, and I asked “Is that all?”
    And the Doc said “Yes! Everytime somebody offers you a snack, you just do it”

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  7. Kef says:

    How about increasing the shame: get one of those bathroom scales that publishes each weight reading on twitter.

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  8. DonO says:

    It has been a while since I’ve taken economics. Is the walk down the hall and the associated shame the opportunity cost?

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