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July 1979

Obesity and Food Choices in Public Places

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Dr Stunkard); the Department of Psychology, Memphis State University (Dr Meyer); and the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Mr Coll).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(7):795-797. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780070073008

• More than 5,000 food choices were observed at nine eating sites—four where meals were served and five where snacks were served. Caloric content of food choice was strongly affected by eating site and there was great variability in the amount chosen at each site. Men chose somewhat more food than women. Body weight had no overall effect on food choice, although obese people chose somewhat more food than nonobese people at one site—that serving food with the highest caloric content. These findings are consistent with the six earlier studies of food choice, which concluded that the major influence on how much people choose to eat is where they eat, and that there is great variability in the amount they choose at any one site. The presence of obesity is not a major determinant of food choice in public places.