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Food Trends

People more likely to order higher calorie, fattier foods online than in person

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People order more from behind a screen. (iStock)

Americans are dining out in record numbers.

For the first time in history, people in the U.S. are spending more at restaurants than they do on groceries.

But that also means people are ordering out in droves. A recent study conducted by Butterball.com found that the average American blows $1,100 on takeout every year. With a growing number of food service apps like Seamless and Caviar, it’s no surprise that it’s gotten easier for us to be lazy when it comes to mealtime.

That ease of use isn’t only costing us more money, it could be having an effect on our waistlines. A new study published in the journal of Management Science found that people not only spend more when ordering food online, but they also order fattier or higher calorie items—specially when it comes to pizza.

The team of researchers from several schools including University of Toronto, Duke University, and the National University of Singapore looked at data from 160,000 pizza chain orders placed by 56,000 individual households. They found that orders placed on a computer or smartphone averaged 3.5 percent more calories—and included 14 percent more special instructions like “hold the mayo” or “extra cheese”—than orders placed in person or over the phone.

The findings indicate that people feel less confined to adhere to social norms about being healthy when they don’t have to interact with a real person.

“When we think we’re free from social judgments, we’ll order what we really want,” Ryan McDevitt, an economics professor at Duke’s Fuqua Graduate School of Business behind the study, told the Huffington Post.