Study Compares Difference in Weight at Chinese Buffets

Have you ever looked at your patterns of eating when sitting down to a nice hearty buffet of food? A study shows that there is a big difference in the behavior of people concerning Chinese buffets.

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the eating behaviors of people at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets differs depending upon their body mass.

Researchers studied 213 normal weight and obese diners at 11 all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets. They found that overweight people sat 16 feet closer to the buffet, and also sat facing the food. They also used larger plates and ate with forks instead of chopsticks. Instead of casually browsing the buffet to make a choice in what they wanted, many started eating immediately. All of these were factors that caused them to overeat.

"What's crazy is that these people are generally unaware of what they're doing - they're unaware of sitting closer, facing the food, chewing less, and so on," says lead author Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab.

Researchers found that 27% of normal weight diners faced the buffet while eating, whereas 42% of obese diners did. Overweight diners sat about 16 feet closer to the buffet than normal weight diners. Sitting at a booth rather than a table was more common for normal weight diners - 38% vs. 16% - as was browsing the buffet before serving (71% to 33%). Finally, the authors looked at utensil use and found that 24% of normal-weight people used chopsticks, but only 9% of overweight people did. It also said that normal weight people were more likely to have a napkin on their lap.

The study was conducted by Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab and published in the journal Obesity.

I'll have to check out my eating patterns the next time I go to a Chinese buffet. I already know that I don't use chopsticks because it takes too long to eat with them. I wonder if this study was done in restaurants where the waitress sat the patrons or if they seated themselves?

Sources: Obesity, medicalnewstoday

Oct 16, 2008
by Anonymous

Yes, but ...

The only issue I can address is the booth vs table one, though I believe that may affect the other conclusions drawn.

Booths are not designed to accomodate obese patrons. Spacing varies, but often obese people will find the edge of the table at a booth crammed into their bellys. Not only is that obviously uncomfortable, but it makes getting in and out of the booth, something you might do several times during a visit to a buffet, a chore.

That issue may also affect the "distance from the buffet" and "facing the buffet" issues as booths are often further from the buffet than tables and are fixed in their orientation to the buffet with less option to face the buffet (man, have I been to too many buffets or what?).

If thinner people are less averse to using booths (because a booth is more accomodating to them), then they would automatically be seated further away and face the buffet less often.

Most of the other factors are well-known problems for obese people regardless of "where" they're eating.