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

Monday, September 03, 2012 - 12:00 PM

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?

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Comments [5]

Jeremy from New York City

What is the deal with coffee shops and Lite-FM? If I never heard that station again, it would be too soon. Bring back Muzak!

Sep. 22 2012 08:48 AM
Phyllis Sharpe from nj

When my husband and I and our 4 children went to Luchows for lunch at Christmas time we felt welcome, and the kids enjoyed it. Of course this was a long time ago.
Today where I would go for lunch or supper with my 3 grandchildren, I don't know.

Sep. 04 2012 07:22 PM
John Flory from Morristown, NJ

I wish that restaurant reviews would include items like sound level and type of background music (if any).

Sep. 03 2012 11:22 PM
David from Flushing

What makes you think restaurants want people to eat fewer calories? I have also heard of restaurants having loud music and chairs with low backs to chase away the older crowd and keep the younger trendy types.

Sep. 03 2012 02:36 PM
George Jochnowitz from New York

Food is beautiful People are beautiful. Let there be light.
Dark restaurants are a big mistake.
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Light.html

Sep. 03 2012 11:25 AM

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