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Diners Eat Less When Restaurant Has Soft Lighting, Music

Last Updated: August 31, 2012.

Calorie counts per meal dropped but customers' satisfaction rose, study found.

FRIDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- It may not help the restaurant's bottom line, but a new study suggests that diners are happier and eat less in fast-food restaurants when the lighting and music go soft.

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

The researchers found that people ate less -- 775 calories instead of 949, or a decrease of 18 percent -- thanks to the changes in the atmosphere. People also said they enjoyed their food more.

"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 overeating -- and increase their customers' satisfaction at the same time."

The findings were published online in the August issue of Psychological Reports.

More information

For more about weight control, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, Aug. 29, 2012

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