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Swayed by Other's Eating Cues

3 women eating togetherYour restaurant order or food choices overall may depend on what you think others are eating, even when they are not in the room, suggests a new study published in the journal Appetite.

The study included a series of tests. In two of the tests, the researchers set out a bowl of chocolates that were individually wrapped and free for the taking. Then they changed how many chocolate wrappers were placed next to the chocolates. One of the tests was in a lab setting and the other at a bakery.

About half of the customers or participants saw empty wrappers in the bowl and the rest saw no empty wrappers.

In both cases, the customers who saw the empty wrappers took more chocolates than those who didn't see the wrappers.

The findings add to previous research on the importance of social and environmental cues when it comes to our eating behaviors, note the authors. It also open up possibilities to steer people towards healthier choices.

Source: Prinsen, S., T.D. de Ridder, D, de Vet, E. "Eating by example. Effects of environmental cues on dietary decisions." Appetite. Volume 70, 1 November 2013, Pages 1–5.

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