People are four times as likely to order dessert when their waiter is overweight.

By Seriously Science | January 4, 2016 6:00 am

It’s New Years again, which means many people are trying to lose weight. Previous studies have shown that you are likely to eat more if you are dining with an overweight companion. But what if you are at a restaurant and it’s your server who is overweight? In this study, the researchers observed almost 500 interactions between diners and servers in 60 restaurants. They found that diners waited on by someone a high BMI (body mass index) were four times more likely to order dessert, and ordered nearly 20% more alcoholic drinks. Something to keep in mind if you made any weight loss resolutions this year! 

The Waiter’s Weight: Does a Server’s BMI Relate to How Much Food Diners Order?

“Does the weight of a server have an influence on how much food diners order in the high-involvement environment of a restaurant? If people are paying for a full meal, this has implications for consumers, restaurants, and public health. To investigate this, 497 interactions between diners and servers were observed in 60 different full-service restaurants. Diners ordered significantly more items when served by heavy wait staff with high body mass indexes (BMI; p < .001) compared with wait staff with low body mass indexes. Specifically, they were four times as likely to order desserts (p < .01), and they ordered 17.65% more alcoholic drinks (p < .01). These findings provide valuable evidence in recent lawsuits against weight discrimination, and it suggests to consumers who decide what they will and will not order at a restaurant—such as a salad appetizer, no dessert, and one drink—than to decide when the waiter arrives.”

Related content:
Dining with an overweight person makes you eat more.
Want to lose weight? Try playing Tetris. No, really.
Can overweight people blame their tastebuds?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, reinforcing stereotypes
  • vh

    did each restaurant have a mix of overweight and non-overweight waiters? otherwise, maybe the bias is that overweight waiters tend to work at restaurants that serve better desserts and better drinks, hence why the staff is overweight AND why customers are more likely to order desserts and drinks from those restaurants.

  • darryl

    Never trust the recommendations from a skinny server.


  • GuestWhom

    Were the diners who ordered desserts around overweight servers also overweight? It’s possible that overweight diners are more comfortable indulging around other overweight people. I know overweight people who conceal their typical eating habits around doctors and other people they think will pass judgement. The same can be said for some diabetics regarding sugar.

  • OWilson

    Eating habits are complicated by social mores.

    In my younger days, a new dinner companion who was a little overwieght would often just peck at a salad, even in a great restaurant known for it’s food.

    Most annoying, and a waste.

    And, the apparent lack of interest in food didn’t fool anybody! :)

  • AG

    Well, if every one around you has higher IQ than yours, you feel like stupid person. You want to be smarter.
    If every body around you have higher BMI, you feel like skinny anorexic. You want to catch up.

    • AG

      The normalization for any specific population is median or average value. Thus standard of beauty is average value for particular population.
      Height at either too extremes is not attractive.
      Weight at either too extremes is not attractive.
      Size of your nose at either too extreme is not attractive.
      Any measurement at extremes is not desirable. This applies to your blood pressure, heart beat rate, and many other things for human body.


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