Who knew the restaurant lights could make such a difference in how much you eat?
A new study from Cornell University shows that softer lighting and music was linked with fewer calories consumed by restaurant diners.
And not only did eat fewer calories, but they also enjoyed their food more, too, the researchers found.
"These results suggest that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption," study researcher Brian Wansink, Ph.D., an expert on mindless eating and director of Cornell's Food and Brand Lab, said in a statement. "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."
For the study, published in the journal Psychological Reports, researchers modified a Hardee's restaurant so that there was an unchanged part of the dining room, and then a part of the dining room where the music and lighting were softened. Thirty-three people sat in the main, unchanged dining room, while 29 sat in the modified dining room.
The researchers found that both groups of people ordered about the same amount of food, but the people who sat in the modified dining room sat and ate longer, and ultimately threw more of the food away -- meaning they consumed fewer calories. And people who sat in the modified dining room also rated their food higher.
"There are clear implications for restaurants wishing to help consumers slow down and enjoy their food. Yet there are
also implications for consumers who want to eat less," researchers wrote in the study.
"The way to 'have your cake and eat it too' may be to enjoy the atmosphere instead of the cake," they wrote.
For more tips to combat mindless eating, click through the slideshow: