Science Says: You’ll Order More Food & Booze If Your Waiter Isn’t Skinny

It’s a stereotype of the swanky metropolitan restaurant — only hiring wait staff that looks like they just slinked off the pages of Vogue or the runways of Milan — but the results of a recent study seem to indicate that restaurants could pad their bottom lines by hiring servers with a little more padding.

This is according to research from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, published late last year in the journal Environment & Behavior.

Researchers looked at nearly 500 diners in 60 different casual restaurants and found that diners with heavier wait staff were four times more likely to order dessert and ordered 17% more booze than diners with slender servers.

The apparent implication is that customers are more likely to be less worried about how much they eat when their server is not a paragon of fitness.

“A fun, happy, heavy waiter, might lead a diner to say ‘What the heck’ and to cut loose a little,” writes lead author Tim Doering.

The researchers also took into account the body mass indexes of the diners in the study and found that having a non-skinny waiter freed up slender diners to let loose for the night.

“A heavy waiter or waitress seems to have an even bigger influence on the skinniest diners,” notes Doering.

For calorie- and cost-conscious consumers, the researchers recommend deciding what you’re going to order before you interact with the waiter or even get to the restaurant. That way, these external factors are not interfering with your purchasing decision.


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