From the Journal Obesity:
Eating behavior and obesity at Chinese buffets.
Wansink B, Payne CR. Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.
RESULTS: Patrons with higher levels of BMI were more likely to be associated with using larger plates vs. smaller plates (OR 1.16, P < 0.01) and facing the buffet vs. side or back (OR 1.10, P < 0.001). Patrons with higher levels of BMI were less likely to be associated with using chopsticks vs. forks (OR 0.90,P < 0.05), browsing the buffet before eating vs. serving themselves immediately (OR 0.92, P < 0.001), and having a napkin on their lap vs. not having a napkin on their lap (OR 0.92, P < 0.01). Patrons with lower BMIs left more food on their plates (10.6% vs. 6.0%, P < 0.05) and chewed more per bite of food (14.8 vs. 11.9, P < 0.001).
Dr. Grumpy comments:
Now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes at this remarkable piece of research, which basically boils down to "obese people eat more than thin people". But lets think for a minute about the research methods, and what they say about the things people will do to get published:
1. Some poor sucker of a graduate student was told to hang out at the local Chinese buffet.
2. This person had to carefully watch who took what size plates, who was using chopsticks, where people had their napkins, and (most horrifically) actually had to time (was a stopwatch involved?) how long other patrons spent chewing their food.
3. After people left the restaurant (or returned to the buffet) this person had to go make notes on how much partially-eaten food was left on plates (wouldn't this attract the suspicion of other diners? Or even the place's manager?).
4. I want to know how ANYONE, fat or thin, is able to serve themselves by going down the buffet with their back to it (1st sentence of the abstract). Certainly you'll lose weight if you're not going to take food. But if you're not going to eat anything, what's the point of going to a restaurant in the first place?
5. While it's not noted in the abstract, did the department at least reimburse this poor sucker for going to the restaurant? I personally think that should be covered under the research budget. And, if multiple trips to the restaurant were required to write the paper, how much weight did the author gain (or lose) during that time?
6. Do these findings hold up at other buffet types? Like pizza, Mongolian barbecue, or Las Vegas?
7. Can I volunteer to do similar research on a cruise ship (if the department is paying for it, of course)?