Salad on the menu? I'll have a burger then

Date:03-08-2013 07:58:04 read:7

Salad on the menu? I'll have a burger then

A new study into the psychology behind food ordering finds we choose less healthy foods than usual when we know more wholesome options are available

The larger the waiter, the more the guest will eat Photo: Alamy

Have you ever wondered why fast-food joints bother putting salads on the menu?

New psychological research suggests that it is not just the urge to look good on their television advertisements — it is because healthy food on a menu actually makes customers order more of the unhealthy stuff.

Professor Gavan J Fitzsimons, of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in the US, co-authored two studies on the motivation of people ordering unhealthy food, and found that the mere presence of healthy options on an otherwise unhealthy menu led consumers to pick an even unhealthier option than they normally would eat.

One of Prof Fitzsimons conclusions is that seeing a salad allows people to hit the fat this time with a virtuous future in mind, or as he puts it: “I see the salad, and now that I know that I can consume it next time I will indulge in the fries today.”

In another study, this time involving sit-down meals, the professor identifies another key element in unhealthy food choices: an out-of-shape waiter.

Employing a well-upholstered plate captain to serve the subjects of the investigation, researchers noted that customers who were already on a diet “ate more when the server was heavy. Dieters were also more persuaded by a heavy (vs. a thin) server, choosing both a healthy and unhealthy snack more often when she recommended it to them.”

The lessons for restaurateurs seem clear. To get your customers to eat more, (a) put a salad on the menu and (b) employ tubby waiters.

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013