When reading restaurant menus, don’t inadvertently skip over the section with low-calorie or “diet” dishes, if there is one.
In a study published in August 2014 in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers tested three versions of the same menu: the standard menu; one with calories listed next to each dish; and one with low-calorie dishes grouped together in a special section.
Compared to the standard menu, people chose lower-calorie dishes, on average, when ordering from the menu that simply included calories counts. But they did not make lower-calorie choices when given the menu with the low-calorie section.
Setting low-calorie dishes apart gives diners an “initial filter” for that portion of the menu, the authors concluded, suggesting that this type of menu design is counterproductive if the goal is to encourage weight control.