Study: Diners Eat Less When Restaurant Has Soft Music, Lighting

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Soft lighting and mellow music in fast food restaurants can lead to increased satisfaction and lower calorie intake, say the authors of a new study.

After making adjustments at a fast food restaurant that included softening the music and turning down the lights, diners ate 175 fewer calories -- 775 calories instead of 949, or a decrease of 18 percent -- and enjoyed the meal more.

The study was posted online in the journal Psychological Reports.

The study counters the popular notion that people who dine in a relaxed environment, with soft lighting and Muzak, will order more food and eat more than those in a more typical dining environment, said the lead author, Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab.

"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."

Perhaps the research will be an incentive for more experiments such as that found at the McDonald's near Wall Street, where classical pianist Andrew Shapiro performs regularly for customers.

Watch the video below and tell us: What kind of music do you think would go well in a fast-food restaurant?