A study has shown that it’s not only a tempting dessert menu which can derail your diet, but the people who serve scan affect how much we eat.
Researchers from Cornell University in New York and the University of Jena in Germany discovered that we order far more food when the waiter or waitress is overweight.
Diners ordered significantly more items when served by heavy waiting staff with high body mass indexes, compared with waiting staff with low body mass indexes.
Specifically, they were four times as likely to order desserts and they ordered 17.65 per cent more alcoholic drinks.
The study, which was published in the journal Environment & Behaviour and studied the interactions between around 500 diners and their servers in 60 different full-service restaurants, found that the impact was the same regardless of the diner’s own BMI.
Researchers estimated the body mass index (BMI) of each server and diner using a chart of 18 different body types for each gender, which they said had been shown to be accurate in previous studies.
A low BMI was defined as below or equal to 25, and high BMI was above 25, which fits with the NHS classification of 25 being overweight.
Diners may order and eat more food and beverages in the presence of a heavy person because a heavy person sets a social norm.
The researchers recommended that, in order to lessen the impact of a server’s weight, diners should decide beforehand what to eat at a restaurant, or follow simple pre-determined rules.
Previous studies have found that loud music and bright lights in restaurants are also factors which can encourage us to eat more, while listening to soft jazz, on the other hand, can cut intake, the Cornell researchers found.
The type of crockery on which our food is served can also have an effect – with the greater the contrast between the plate and the food, the less we tend to eat.
A recent study by the University of Florida said that using a fork and eating from smaller, less fancy, and even paper plates will help prevent overeating.
It also claims that putting mirrors in your dining room will help weight loss because they actually make junk food taste worse.