Weightier waiters, weightier meals?

WeightyWaitersMy husband and I don’t eat out all that often, but when we do, I’m often tempted to order an appetizer or cocktail. Who isn’t, right?

Turns out there’s a curious factor that may influence how much food or drink we order at restaurants: how much our waiter weighs.

A recent study by the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University found that diners who order from heavier wait staff were four times more likely to get dessert and to order 17 percent more alcohol.

No one goes to a restaurant to start a diet, and so people tend to be susceptible to signals that give them license to order whatever they want, researcher Tim Doering explained.

“A fun, happy, heavy waiter, might lead a diner to say, ‘What the heck’ and to cut loose a little,” said Doering, the study’s lead author.

The study examined 497 diners in 60 casual American restaurants, such as Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s. It compared customers’ orders to their body mass index (height-to-weight ratio) and to the BMIs of the waiters who served them.

Things like lighting, music and where you sit in a restaurant can also affect how much food you order, according to the researchers.

So what’s the best way to mount a defense against subliminal cues tempting you to overindulge?

Plan ahead.

According to study coauthor Brian Wansink, “Deciding that you’ll have either an appetizer or a dessert – but not both – before you get to the restaurant could be one of your best diet defenses.”


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