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Why Do We Eat Fast Food So, Well, Fast?

kid eating fast food
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

There are times when the dining area of a fast food joint looks more like the savage confines of an arctic wolf den with a pack of mangy inhabitants tearing a bloated caribou limb from limb.

However, unlike wolves, most people have the luxury of actually being able to purchase a meal, take it to a table and enjoy it without fear that someone or something else may come along and kill them for a bite of their sandwich.

So, why is that humans seem to have the tendency to rush their fast food dining experience rather than take their time to enjoy it?

One theory is that the interiors of most fast food restaurants are not designed to entice people to hang around for long periods of time. They have bright florescent lighting, lots of background noise and the overall atmosphere of most of these places are just plain dull.

To challenge this theory, researchers Brian Wansink and Dr. Koert Van Ittersum decided to conduct an experiment at a Hardee’s restaurant in Champaign, Illinois.

The two brought in one group to have a bite to eat in the regular old boring section of the establishment, while a second group was seated in a new and improved section of the restaurant that gave off a more “fine dining” type of vibe complete with soft lighting and jazz music.

What they found was that even though Hardee’s customers hung out longer in the new and improved section, they didn’t eat nearly as much as the people inhaling their burgers in the regular portion of the restaurant.

Interestingly, the people in the “fine dining” section gave the quality of the food a higher rating than the other group.

Researchers believe that our surroundings influence the way we eat including the pace at which we do it. They believe that perhaps a more pleasant restaurant atmosphere could help reduce the gluttonous eating that continues to contribute to our overweight society.

[ABC News]

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