Friday, August 31, 2012

Who Knew? Appetite Affected by Music and Lighting

Source: NEW YORK (Reuters) Just as music and lighting can influence what shoppers buy, toning down the tunes and dimming the lights in a fast food restaurant can help diners enjoy their meal more and eat less, according to a U.S. study. After transforming part of a fast food restaurant in Illinois with milder music and lighting, researchers found that customers ate 18 percent fewer calories than other people in the unmodified part of the restaurant.
In the study published in the journal Psychological Reports, Wansink and his co-author Koert Van Ittersum, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the bright lights, stimulating colors, sound-reflecting surfaces and loud music in fast food restaurants are not designed to be relaxing. So they improved the mood in a section of a Hardee's restaurant for the study, adding plants, paintings, indirect lights, tablecloths, candles and instrumental music. After seating customers in both the original and restyled sections of the restaurant, they timed how long their meal lasted and how many calories they consumed. Customers in the modified section ate longer than those in the main dining area, consumed fewer calories and rated the food as more enjoyable. "Spending that extra time eating a little more slowly at a more relaxed pace made a world of difference, not just to how much they ate but how much they liked it," said Wansink, a former executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and the author of the book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think." "These results suggest that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption," he added. About one in three adults and one in six children and teens in the United States is obese, according to government figures. Wansink, who is sending the findings to restaurant chains, said some simple changes could help people eat better and enjoy food more. "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?" said Wansink. (Reporting by Patricia Reaney)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thinking Yourself Obese

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), observed the relationship between perceived weights and actual weights among teenagers and young adults. "... young people who see themselves as fat often change their eating habits by skipping meals, for example. Research has shown that dropping breakfast can lead to obesity," Cuypers (researcher from NTNU) said. The first stage of the study conducted between the years 1995-1997, comprised of 1,196 normal weight male and female teens. Researchers followed up with each individual between the years of 2006-2008 where participants were between the ages of 24 and 30. Results demonstrated 22 percent of normal weight girls are more likely to classify themselves as overweight compared to nine percent of boys. Researchers believe the gender difference lies in the media advertisement that focuses primarily on targeting females rather than males. "Girls thus experience more psychosocial stress to achieve the ideal body," Cuypers said. "Society needs to move away from a focus on weight, and instead needs to emphasize healthy eating habits, such as eating regular and varied meals and eating breakfast. Good sleep habits are also an advantage. And by reducing the amount that teens are transported to and from school and recreational activities, teens might also be able to avoid getting a 'commuter belly'," Cuypers adds
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