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Natural Awakenings

Food Feelings: Restaurant Ambiance Affects Diners’ Appetites

Feb 28, 2013 11:55AM

The mood in a restaurant can help diners enjoy their meals more and eat less, according to study results published in the journal Psychological Reports. After transforming part of a fast food Hardee’s restaurant in Illinois with milder music and lighting, researchers found that customers ate 18 percent fewer calories than diners in an unmodified seating area. Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a professor of marketing and consumer behavior at Cornell University, in New York, explains, “It didn’t change what people ordered, but what it did do was lead them to eat less and made them more satisfied and happier.”

Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, asks, “If softer music and softer lighting seem to get people to eat less in a fast food situation, why not try the same thing at home?”

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