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Healthy Menu Options May Lead to Overindulgence


The question "would you like fries or salad with that?" is one regularly asked by waitresses across the nation. While it's easy to think the answer is a personal decision that reflects one's eating habits, a soon-to-be-released study shows differently.

The New York Times reports that "the presence of healthy options on a menu can induce some diners to eat less healthily than they otherwise would." In the study, a group of college students were given two menus. One featured regular fast-food items (chicken nuggets, french fries, etc.) and the other was exactly the same with the addition of a salad. When choosing from the first menu, only 10 percent of the subjects ordered french fries. However, when given the menu with salad as an option, 33 percent of the same subjects asked for french fries.

This is an interesting concept and I'm curious to read the report, by the Journal of Consumer Research, when it comes out. Until then, I can only speak about my own experiences and the truth is I've looked at salad on a menu many times and thought, "I should have a salad. . .nah, I'll get the fries." What do you think of the news? Have you ever shunned a healthier dish for something more indulgent?

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