This paper investigates how people’s food choices can be shaped by the body type of others around them. Using a professionally constructed obesity prosthesis, we show that the body type of a (confederate) server in a taste test study was sufficient to alter both the quantity (Experiment 1) and specific choices (Experiment 2) participants made but that chronic dieters and non-dieters exhibited opposite effects. While non-dieters ate more snacks when the server was thin, dieters ate more when the server was heavy. Dieters were also more persuaded by a heavy (vs. a thin) server, choosing both a healthy and unhealthy snack more often when she recommended it to them. We suggest these results may be attributable to identification with the server.
Source: “Might an overweight waitress make you eat more? How the body type of others is sufficient to alter our food consumption” from Journal of Consumer Psychology, Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2010, Pages 146-151