Professor Brian Wansink of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," said the study involving 78 adults found the adage "out of sight, out of mind" was true when it came to food.
"We looked at whether serving foods from the kitchen counter, instead of at the table, would reduce the number of times a person refilled his or her plate," Wansink said in a statement. "When we kept the serving dishes off the table, people ate 20 percent fewer calories. Men ate close to 29 percent less."
Meanwhile, keeping fruits and vegetables on the table resulted in more consumption of those items.
"If fruits and vegetables are kept in plain sight, we'll be much more likely to choose them, rather than a piece of cake hidden in the refrigerator," Wansink said.
The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, Calif.