CHICAGO – Oct. 13, 2016 – Open floor plans are in demand in today’s housing market. But listings lacking one may not be hampered after all. In fact, if a new study is right, you might even turn that closed floor plan into a selling point: Its results suggest that open floor plans cause homeowners to overeat, which in turn could make them gain weight.
According to the researchers, easy access to the kitchen in an open floor plan can prompt owners to visit more often and, while there, grab something to eat. The study, published in the journal Environment and Behavior, found that homeowners with an open floor plan made about 10 percent more serving trips than owners with a closed floor plan. Each time they got up to snack, participants ended up consuming an average of 170 more calories in the open setting plan compared to the closed setting.
“Open kitchen-dining area floor plans remove visual and physical barriers between humans and food,” says study co-author Kim Rollings, an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame. “Our results suggest that people may eat more in a dining area with direct view of and access to the serving area, versus a separate dining space. … In order to reduce food consumption, results suggest that serving areas should be placed out of sight from diners. Diners may also choose to eat in areas facing away or separated from buffet-style serving areas.”
For the study, Rollings and co-author Nancy Wells, an environmental psychologist from Cornell University, tracked the eating behaviors of 57 college students in two dining scenarios: one in which they had a direct view of the food-serving area (an open floor plan) and another in which they did not have direct views of the kitchen (a closed floor plan).
Rollings says that open floor plans may be great entertaining spaces by putting the kitchen on display, but she suggests architects may want to rethink their design approaches given that too much openness for eating areas may prompt people to overdo it.
Source: “How Your Open Floor Plan Could Be Affecting Your Health,” Chicago Tribune (Sept. 23, 2016)
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