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How we’ll all have what she’s having

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Published Jul 1, 2014

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London - Eating out with friends is more likely to lead to boring and unhealthy food choices because of the 'I'll have the same as you' effect, new research has revealed.

Diners tend to pick similar, though not necessarily identical, menu items as the people they are eating with, said the study.

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And this could mean ditching the diet and any attempt to stick to nutritious or healthy meals for if one person orders dessert then the others will do so too, it added.

But strikingly, the findings also showed just how boring people are because most groups of diners stick to the same kind of meals with little evidence of trying something new or different.

Researcher Brenna Ellison of the department of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois analysed hundreds of orders in a local full service restaurant.

She found clear themes among individual groups of people on a table where they all order similar but not identical items off the menu.

For instance, if someone has a meat dish, the others have a meat dish though not necessarily the same one. If one has fish, the others may. And the same for starters and dessert.

Nutrition, calories and other health labelling does not make a difference, she told the journal Food Quality and Preference.

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‘If one person goes for a high calorie choice then the others may do so too, she said.

It suggests that despite going out for a meal, most people are 'less variety seeking' than they think.

She said: 'Diners wanted to be different from their dining companions, but not too different.

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'Diners are happier if another diner orders from the same food category as them.

'And peer effects may outweigh the effects of nutritional information on food choice.' - Daily Mail

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