Obese diners choose convenience and overeating at Chinese buffets

When dining at Chinese Buffets, overweight individuals serve themselves and eat differently than normal weight individuals. This may lead them to overeat, according to a recent study by Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab. Compared to normal weight diners, overweight individuals sat 16 feet closer to the buffet, faced the food, used larger plates, ate with forks instead of chopsticks, and served themselves immediately instead of browsing the buffet.

"What's crazy is that these people are generally unaware of what they're doing – they're unaware of sitting closer, facing the food, chewing less, and so on," say Brian Wanink, lead author of this study and of the book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think."

The study was published in the journal Obesity and includes observations of 213 diners at 11 all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant buffets across the country. Study participants included a range of normal weight to obese diners, none of whom were Asian. Major study findings include:

-- 27% of normal-weight patrons faced the buffet compared to 42% of obese diners.
-- Overweight diners sat an average of 16 feet closer than normal-weight diners.
-- 16% of obese diners sat at a booth rather than a table compared to 38% of normal weight diners
-- 71% of normal-weight diners browsed the buffet before serving themselves compared to 33% of obese diners
-- 24% of normal-weight people used chopsticks compared with 9% of overweight people

"When food is more convenient people tend to eat more," say coauthor Collin R. Payne, New Mexico State University.

"These seemingly subtle differences in behavior and environment may cause people to overeat without even realizing it."

Source: Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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Citation: Obese diners choose convenience and overeating at Chinese buffets (2008, October 3) retrieved 20 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2008-10-obese-diners-convenience-overeating-chinese.html
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Oct 03, 2008
This study just points out the obvious. Obesity requires routines that encourage overeating. Most people are unaware of their routines. That is why they form. So that they can be carried out without further thought.

Oct 03, 2008
The other obvious bit is that people (like me) go to buffets just so they can eat like a pig. Who goes there to have a small bowl of noodles and then leaves? I eat until I can barely crawl out. Buffets are not for dieters.

Oct 03, 2008
Like the Romans - just reading this makes me want to puke.

Oct 04, 2008
This study just proves that "all you can eat" marketing strategy works as intended. The fact that it draws obese customers strongly is irrelevant and inconsequential...wait! maybe the marketing strategy was formulated specifically for them, as studies had proved beyond doubts that a huge portion of the society is increasingly becoming overweight/obese and will accordingly consume more food...which, as any respectable restaurateurs knows, are served with healthy profit margins. So, in the end, who cares who get fat? as they are doing it out of their own free will, they got brains, haven't they? ..."they're unaware of sitting closer, facing the food, chewing less, and so on..." is just a Blame It On Something/Someone Else cop out.

Oct 06, 2008
I agree that the very idea of buffet restaurants is to make people eat as much as they can or even more. So, it's not a surprise you can see many obese people in buffets as they fit in there..

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Nov 06, 2008
I read a study somewhere that some buffets actually restrict the amount of food that can be conserved, because some people can eat so much it actually affects that nice profit margin. I have seen signs to the effect of "Only 3 trips please" and the like. Also, many utilize smaller bowls or plates as a subconscious way to reduce the amount of food consumed.

The less people eat, the more money they make, to a point.

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