-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- People who feel powerless
may choose larger food portions in an attempt to boost their social
status, a new study suggests.
Northwestern University researchers found that people equate
larger food portions with higher social standing. For example,
study participants believed that people who opted for a large
coffee had more social status than those who chose a medium or
small coffee, even when the price was the same.
The study also found that people who feel powerless (such as
those in lower socioeconomic groups) selected larger pieces of
bagels than others, and chose larger smoothies when they were at a
social event than when they were alone.
The findings were released online in advance of publication in
an upcoming print issue of the
Journal of Consumer Research.
"An ongoing trend in food consumption is consumers' tendency to eat more and more. Even more worrisome, the increase in food consumption is particularly prevalent among vulnerable populations such as lower socioeconomic status consumers," study author David Dubois, of HEC Paris, and colleagues at Northwestern University wrote in a journal news release.
The team noted that it's common for people to equate the size of
a consumer product -- such as a house, TV or vehicle -- with social
The researchers also found that when powerless people were told
that smaller hors d'oeuvres were served at prestigious events, they
selected the smaller food items.
"Understanding and monitoring the size-to-status relationship of food options within an assortment is an important tool at the disposal of policy makers to effectively fight against overconsumption," the study authors concluded.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
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