First foods most: Buffet dish sequences may prompt healthier choices

November 6, 2013 by Joanna Ladzinski, Cornell Food & Brand Lab
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

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

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.