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Would you like fewer fries with that?

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Reuters A team of behavioral economics researchers find something surprising in this month’s “Health Affairs”: When fast-food patrons are offered a suggestion to downsize their portions, they actually do it.

Only 1 percent of customers spontaneously requested downsizing of a high-calorie, high-starch side dish in the baseline periods, when no explicit downsizing offer was made. Thirty-three percent of customers accepted the downsizing offer. As noted above, there was no significant difference in acceptance rates with and without the nominal discount. Customers who downsized did not compensate by choosing higher-calorie entrées, nor did they proceed to order lower-calorie entrees. Therefore, downsizing led to the purchase of significantly fewer mean overall calories.

Also notable: The presence of calorie labels did not seem to impact diners’ decisions to downsize, nor did it matter if a 25-cent discount was offered for the small portion of food.

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