Wine Drinkers Can Cut Back a Little by Following the
Half Glass Rule
Researchers looked at ways people try to control wine
consumption; wine a regular daily habit for many seniors
22, 2014 A glass of wine or maybe one or two more has become an
almost daily habit for many senior citizens. Many of them who are
interested in cutting back a little will be interested in new research
that found sticking to a rule of pouring just a half glass of wine
limits the likelihood of overconsumption, even for men with a higher
body mass index.
Laura Smarandescu, lead author and an assistant
professor of marketing at Iowa State, says the research team looked at a
variety of factors to understand and control over pouring.
Researchers found BMI affected how much men poured,
but had no influence on women. However, people who used a rule of
thumb, such as a half-glass rule or a two-fingers-from-the-top rule
when pouring wine, poured less regardless of BMI or gender.
About 70 percent of the people in the sample used
the half-glass rule, and they poured significantly less by about 20
percent, Smarandescu said.
Its a big difference. We would suggest using a
rule of thumb with pouring because it makes a big difference in how much
people pour and prevents them from overdrinking.
Men with a higher BMI, who did not use a rule of
thumb, poured more 31 percent more for men considered overweight or
obese and 26 percent more for men at the midpoint of the normal BMI
range. While BMI did not affect how much women poured, those at the
midpoint of the normal BMI poured 27 percent less when using the
half-glass rule than those who did not.
Researchers were not surprised to find men poured
more than women, which is consistent with other studies of alcohol
consumption. However, they did not expect the half glass rule would be
an exception to men pouring more.
In this study, we had every expectation that men
would always pour more than women, no matter what. But what we found is
that the rule of thumb effect is so strong that men using a rule of
thumb at all levels of BMI actually poured less than women who were not
using a rule of thumb, said Doug Walker, an assistant professor of
marketing at Iowa State.
Researchers asked 74 college students and staff to
pour wine in a variety of settings so that they could control for the
size, shape and color of the glass, as well as if wine is poured with a
meal. They poured both red and white wine from bottles with different
levels of fullness. Participants were told to pour as much as wine as
they normally would in one setting.
Impact of social norms
Drinking is more socially acceptable for men than
women, which is one explanation for why BMI did not have the same effect
on women, researchers said. Women are often more conscious of how much
they are pouring and will pour less.
Women are more likely to socially compare with
other women. Theyre aware that drinking is not as socially acceptable
for women as it is for men, although it is becoming more acceptable than
it has been in the past. But for men there is still more of a culture of
drinking and pouring more, Smarandescu said.
The study looked only at pours, not consumption.
However, researchers point to previous studies that show serving size is
linked with overeating. Free pouring wine increases the tendency to over
consume because it is not as easily measured as other types of beer or
It is essential for all drinkers, especially men
of higher BMIs, to have a rule of thumb for self-serving, because
eye-balling a serving size is a difficult task and will often lead
people to pour too much, said Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing
and director of the Cornell
Food and Brand Lab. Next time you open a bottle, serve yourself a
half glass regardless of the size of your glassand you will be less
likely to accidentally drink too much.
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