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Behaviors Indicative of More Trips to Buffet Table Identified

Serving oneself immediately and using larger plate linked to more trips at all-you-can-eat buffet

TUESDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Surveying the food options before eating and using a smaller plate could result in less trips to the buffet at all-you-can-eat restaurants and buffets, according to a research letter published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Brian Wansink, Ph.D., and Mitsuru Shimizu, Ph.D., from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. analyzed data recorded by 30 trained observers relating to the demographic characteristics and behavior of 303 diners (165 men, 158 women) at 22 selected all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet restaurants in six states in Spring 2008.

The researchers found that those who served themselves immediately on reaching the buffet made significantly more trips than those who surveyed the options first. Diners who used a larger plate also made significantly more trips than those who used a smaller plate. These associations remained significant after controlling for body mass index (BMI). Diners who faced the buffet made more trips than those facing away, although the effect was no longer significant after adjustment for BMI.

"Serving oneself immediately and using a larger plate may result in more trips and more eating, which could eventually influence BMI," write the authors. "As with all observational studies, association does not indicate causation. Yet, these observations provide ecologic validity to the contextual factors that have influenced food intake in controlled lab settings."

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