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Buffet Order May Impact How Diners Eat

November 14, 2013
ABC News Radio

One of the greatest restaurant innovations of all time is the all-you-can-eat buffet line, judging by how people gorge themselves when the occasion arises.

Yet, what you might not be aware of is how the order of the dishes placed on the table affects how much you take and what you pile on your plate, according to Cornell University researchers Brian Wasnik and Andrew Hanks.

The pair conducted an experiment using two all-you-can-eat buffet tables of breakfast items. Cheesy eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, cinnamon rolls, low-fat granola, low-fat yogurt, and fruit were placed in that order on one table while the dishes were reversed on the other.

Wasnik and Hanks say what happened was the cheesy eggs were selected by 75 percent of the participants when offered first but by only 29 percent when offered last. Subsequently, fruit was taken by 86 percent of diners when it was first on the table but only 55 percent picked up fruit when it showed up last.

Meanwhile, in the case of both tables, 68 percent of the participants scooped up at least one of the first three food items.

Another finding: taking eggs first was generally correlated with also selecting bacon and potatoes but there seemed to be no similar correlation when fruit was the first food offering.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio