More Relaxing Environment Can Lead to Eating 18% Less Calories

Have you ever noticed how different the atmosphere is in a fast food restaurant compared to a higher end sit down restaurant? Usually fast food restaurant have bright lights and either upbeat music playing in the background or no music playing at all. And of course the purpose is not only to get your food fast but to eat it fast as well. However in sit down restaurants, the lighting tends to be much dimmer and almost always had softer more relaxing music. What if I told you these differences in atmosphere cause about an 18% difference in the amount of calories you have during a meal. 

According to a study done by Cornell University, people tend to eat on average 175 more calories in a brightly lit fast food restaurant than they would in that same fast food restaurant when it was dimly lit and played relaxing music. There was no difference in the types of food people ordered, they just ate less of it and were more satisfied with their meal. This challenges earlier studies stating that people tend to mindlessly eat more food when they are relaxed.

 It seems that restaurant owners have picked up on this fact a long time ago. I'm pretty sure you have never walked into a McDonald's with mood lighting or into an upscale restaurant where they didn't want you to relax and take your to time to enjoy your meal. In the past few years many fast food chains have come under fire for purposely using tactics to make people eat more and therefore make them fat. 

So what do you think? Are fast food restaurants doing this to us on purpose? Or is it just a coincidence? In the mean time, maybe its better to take your fast food meals back home and enjoy them in your own relaxing environment. It couldn't hurt.


This is a very interesting study that I think exposes one of the many tactics fast food restaurants use to become more profitable. Eating 18% more calories may not seem like a big gain for a fast food company as large as McDonalds but like any company that size the smallest differences can make a reasonable impact on their bottom line. What surprised me from the study is that not only did relaxing music make people eat less, they were more satisfied with their meal. The power of music is startling and I think would make for a very interesting blog topic.

I found this really interesting, and it reminded me of a book I read over the summer called French Women Don't Get Fat. The author talked about fast food, and food on the go, and how when you don't take the time to sit down and enjoy your meal, you don't realize what or how much you are eating. When eating is treated like an important part of the day, by sitting, relaxing, and eating slowly, you become more aware of what you are eating, and aware of how full you are and when it's time to stop eating.

This is really intriguing. I am sure there are more hidden ways that fast food restaurants strategically make people eat more caloric foods in order for them to make money. I also find it interesting that when you ask for a glass of water they give you either a small cup of water or try to sell you a water bottle relentlessly. It's interesting how you never see a bottle of water as an option on the combo meal menu etc. Also, if you think about it, most people tend to drink more water at sit down restaurants because it is always in front of them and because of that, they end up filling up faster. Here is an interesting blog post I came across a couple of years ago. It talks about water at fast-food restaurants.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Alcohol and Energy Drinks
We've all heard of Four Lokos (or "blackout in a can") and the drama surrounding them when they first came…
It isn't up to the Keratin
Many girls who have naturally curly, wavy, or frizzy hair have started looking into getting keratin treatments at their local…
It isn't up to the Keratin
Many girls who have naturally curly, wavy, or frizzy hair have started looking into getting keratin treatments at their local…

Old Contributions