-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Nov. 25, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Politeness and
consideration for fellow diners could play a role in holiday weight
gain, a new study suggests.
When people are picking snacks and other foods for themselves
and someone else, their choices are different when the other person
is average-sized than when the person is overweight, the
In an experiment, participants chose a snack of either wheat
crackers or chocolate chip cookies for themselves and a woman they
had just met. In some cases, the woman was her normal weight
(wearing a size zero or two). At other times she wore a body suit
that appeared to increase her weight by nearly 65 pounds (making
her closer to a size 16).
Nearly 60 percent of the participants chose the same snack for
themselves and the woman when she appeared overweight. But, this
occurred just about 30 percent of the time when the woman was her
"What the results show is that people pick the same snack to avoid offending someone they perceive as overweight," study co-leader Gavan Fitzsimons, a marketing professor at the Duke University School of Business, said in a university news release.
"This means that people might pick unhealthier options for themselves and others during the holidays if they think not doing so could hurt someone's feelings," he said.
In additional experiments, participants told the researchers
they thought it would be offensive to give an overweight person
healthy food and then take unhealthy food for themselves, said
study co-leader Peggy Liu, a marketing doctoral student. Similarly,
the participants said it would be offensive to give an overweight
person unhealthy food and then take healthy food for
"This suggests that if you are heading back to the buffet to cut a piece of pumpkin pie for your overweight uncle, you might also cut a larger piece than normal for yourself so you don't hurt his feelings," Liu said in the news release.
The study appears in the November issue of the journal
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines how
prevent weight gain.
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