First foods most: Buffet dish sequences may prompt healthier choices

November 6, 2013 by Joanna Ladzinski
First foods most: Buffet dish sequences may prompt healthier choices

When diners belly-up to a buffet, food order matters. When healthy foods are first, eaters are less likely to desire the higher calorie dishes later in the line, says a new Cornell University behavioral study in PLOS ONE, Oct 23.

"Each food taken may partly determine what other foods a person selects. In this way, the first food a person selects triggers what they take next," write behavioral economists Professor Brian Wansink and Andrew Hanks, postdoctoral researcher.

The researchers offered two breakfast buffets to 124 people. In one, diners saw healthy food like fruit, low-fat yogurt and low-fat granola first. At the other buffet, dinners saw high-calorie offerings such as cheesy eggs, fried potatoes and bacon first.

"The first three items a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66 percent of their total plate, regardless of whether the items were high or low-calorie foods," said Wansink

Specifically, 86 percent of diners took fruit when it was offered first, but only 54 percent took fruit when it was offered last. About 75 percent of diners took cheesy eggs when they were offered first, compared with only 29 percent who dished them up when they were offered last.

While the presentation order of buffet foods prompted diners to take the items they encountered first, researchers saw evidence of a "trigger effect" in the cheesy eggs-first line. "Placing less-healthful foods first all but encourages diners to select the next two calorically dense and highly delicious potatoes and bacon," Hanks said.

"There's an easy take-away here for us…always start at the healthier end of the ,"said Wansink, "Two-thirds of your plate will be the good stuff!"

Explore further: Gorging at the buffet table? Tactics may help you eat less

Related Stories

Gorging at the buffet table? Tactics may help you eat less

April 19, 2013
(HealthDay)—Few situations can trip up someone who is watching their weight like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Seeing certain foods prompts kids to eat healthier

July 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Just because healthful foods are available in school cafeterias doesn't mean children are going to eat them, but in some cases, the very presence of such foods as whole fruit may actually prompt kids to ...

How food marketers can help consumers eat better while improving their bottom line

October 11, 2012
Food marketers are masters at getting people to crave and consume the foods that they promote. In this study authors Dr. Brian Wansink, co-director of the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition ...

Recommended calorie information on menus does not improve consumer choices, study shows

July 18, 2013
Despite the lack of any concrete evidence that menu labels encourage consumers to make healthier food choices, they have become a popular tool for policymakers in the fight against obesity.

The hungry bypass veggies for starches, proteins

June 29, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- After going without food for 18 hours, most of us would rather reach for French fries or chicken fingers than green beans or carrots, according to a new study from Cornell's Food and Brand Lab.

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

August 29, 2012
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.

Recommended for you

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

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.