Before you help yourself to another biscuit from the tin, look up and consider the state of your kitchen.

Because being surrounded by a mess might make you scoff too many unhealthy snacks, according to a study.

Researchers said chaotic environments make us loosen our self-control, meaning we can graze on as much as double the amount of "forbidden foods".

The study by Cornell University in the US assessed how much food was eaten by 98 young women in ten-minutes in different settings.


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To test the theory, two groups of 19-year-olds were asked to wait in kitchens with bowls of food, including cookies, crackers and carrots.

One was a chaotic environment, while the other was neat and tidy. In the messy kitchen, the teenagers ate double the amount of cookies than in the well-ordered one.

The amount of savoury crackers and carrots eaten by the participants was the same in both kitchens.

In all, the women in the messy kitchen ate biscuits amounting to an average of 103 calories compared to 38 calories in the tidy one.

Lead author Lenny Vartanian, of Australia's University of New South Wales, said: "Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diets. It seems to lead people to think, 'Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn't I be?' I suspect the same would hold with males."

The researchers also found that asking participants to recall a time when they felt in control of their lives limited how much they ate before they entered the chaotic kitchen. Conversely, they had more cookies in both kitchens after thinking about a chaotic period.

The researchers suggest meditating might increase feelings of self-control to prevent snacking. But co-author Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, pointed out: "It's probably easier just to keep our kitchens cleaned up."

The results also seem to support a theory that self-control is limited. Because the participants had to control their emotions more in the chaotic kitchen, they had less capacity to stop eating.

- Daily Mail