Want to cut calories? Add mood lighting

CORNELL / GEORGIA TECH (US) — A restaurant’s choice of music and lighting can lead to more satisfaction with the food and less calorie intake, a new study shows.

“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,” says lead author Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.

Wansink and co-author, Koert van Ittersum of Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), found that softening the lighting and music in fast-food restaurants didn’t change what people ordered, but it caused them to eat 18 percent less of what they ordered—775 calories instead of 949. They also rated the food as more enjoyable.

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Published in the journal Psychological Reports, the study counters the popular notion that people who dine in a relaxed environment, with soft lighting and mellow music, will order more food and eat more than those in a more typical dining environment.

“These results suggest that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption,” Wansink says. “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.”

Source: Cornell University