Fast food restaurant lighting and music can reduce calorie intake and increase satisfaction

August 29, 2012, Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Your mood for food can be changed by a restaurant's choice of music and lighting, leading to increased satisfaction and reduced calorie intake, according to a new study.

"When we did a makeover of a fast- restaurant, we found that softer and lighting led diners to eat 175 fewer calories and enjoy it more," said the study's lead author, Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab.

Wansink and his co-author, Koert van Ittersum of the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that softening the lighting and music in fast-food restaurants didn't change what people ordered, but it caused them to eat 18 percent less of what they ordered—775 calories instead of 949. They also rated the food as more enjoyable. The results are posted online in the journal Psychological Reports. The Wansink-Ittersum study counters the popular notion that people who dine in a relaxed environment, with soft lighting and mellow music, will order more food and eat more than those in a more typical dining environment.

"These results suggest that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption," Wansink said. "This is important information for fast-food restaurants, which are often accused of contributing to obesity: Making simple changes away from brighter lights and sound-reflecting surfaces can go a long way toward reducing —and increase their customers' satisfaction at the same time."

Explore further: What would Batman eat? Priming children to make healthier fast food choices

Related Stories

What would Batman eat? Priming children to make healthier fast food choices

July 19, 2012
Popeye inspired a generation of growing Baby Boomers to eat its spinach. Today, role models such as Batman can prompt children to develop their own healthy eating habits, a recent Cornell University study finds.

Recommended for you

Researchers replicate famous marshmallow test, makes new observations

May 25, 2018
A new replication study of the well-known "marshmallow test—a famous psychological experiment designed to measure children's self-control—suggests that being able to delay gratification at a young age may not be as predictive ...

Can we really tell if it's love at first sight?

May 25, 2018
Long-term and short-term relationships are obviously different from each other. Some people are the type you'd want to marry; others are good primarily for the sex.

People with family history of alcoholism release more dopamine in expectation of alcohol

May 23, 2018
People with a family history of alcohol use disorder (AUD) release more dopamine in the brain's main reward center in response to the expectation of alcohol than people diagnosed with the disorder, or healthy people without ...

Why we fail to understand our smartphone use

May 23, 2018
Checking your phone dozens of times a day indicates unconscious behaviour, which is "extremely repetitive" say psychologists.

Study confirms that men and women tend to adopt different navigation strategies

May 23, 2018
When navigating in a known environment, men prefer to take shortcuts to reach their destination more quickly, while women tend to use routes they know. This is according to Alexander Boone of UC Santa Barbara in the US who ...

Early life trauma in men associated with reduced levels of sperm microRNAs

May 22, 2018
Exposure to early life trauma can lead to poor physical and mental health in some individuals, which can be passed on to their children. Studies in mice show that at least some of the effects of stress can be transmitted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.