Diners order more food if waiter is overweight – study

© Andrew Burton
Eating out can be stressful enough for anyone on a diet, but it has turned out that not only what we eat matters. Beware: if you have an overweight waiter, you have four times more chances to order dessert, a new study has found.

Also, you might order almost 20 percent more alcoholic drinks, according to the study.

“Diners ordered significantly more items when served by heavy waiting staff with high body mass indexes, compared with waiting staff with low body mass indexes,” the researchers from Cornell University in New York and the University of Jena in Germany.

“Specifically, they were four times as likely to order desserts and they ordered 17.65 percent more alcoholic drinks,” regardless of the visitor’s own body weight, the research also read.

The research carried out by Tim Döring of Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, and Brian Wansin of Cornell University, in the US, looked into 497 interactions between diners and servers in 60 different full-service restaurants. The results of their study, “The Waiter’s Weight. Does a Server’s BMI Relate to How Much Food Diners Order?” have been published in Environment and Behavior magazine.

How does it work?

An overweight person “sets a social norm,” so it becomes easier to order having an overweight waiter, the research says.

“Diners ordered significantly more items when served by heavy wait staff with high body mass indexes (BMI; p < .001) compared with wait staff with low body mass indexes. Specifically, they were four times as likely to order desserts (p < .01), and they ordered 17.65 percent more alcoholic drinks (p < .01).”

Apart from an obese waiter, loud music and bright lights could encourage the visitors to eat more, according to previous studies.

How should diners counteract this influencing factor?

One should either decide on what to eat beforehand, or follow simple rules such as: don’t eat desserts for lunch, or consume alcohol on weekdays.

Another study by the University of Florida stated that using forks and small plates could help to curb appetite.