Want to Make Healthy Food Choices? Try Making Healthy Friends.

When researchers analyzed thousands of table orders from an Oklahoma restaurant over the span of 19 weeks, they found that people tended to order like their friend regardless of health concerns presented by menus.

What's the Latest?


When researchers analyzed thousands of table orders from an Oklahoma restaurant over the span of 19 weeks, they found that people tended to order like their friend regardless of health concerns presented by menus. "Diners at the same table tended to pick main dishes that were not exactly the same, but were from the same category — for example, if one diner ordered a mushroom burger, another might have ordered a bleu cheese burger." Brenna Ellison, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, said: "We want to be different from our friends a little bit, but not too different."

What's the Big Idea?

It's well known that most individuals want badly to fit into a larger social group and many are willing to sacrifice their identity--and in this case, their health--to do so. "In general, people didn't really like salads or vegetarian dishes, compared with the other food choices. But in the study, that changed if more than one person at a table ordered a salad: the more salads that were ordered, the more people liked them." The study has interesting implications for policy makers. Should they be encouraging people to eat better or to have healthier friends?

Read more at Scientific American

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less