[Content Note: Fat bias.]

Here's just a swell story about an experiment in which a thin actress wore a fat suit to test whether (thin?) people eat more when dining with a fat person. And of course the answer is YES!
To understand how people influenced each other's eating habits, Cornell University Food and Brand Lab researchers asked 82 undergraduate students to eat lunch, which included spaghetti and a salad, with an actress. The researchers randomly assigned the students to one of four conditions:

* In one situation, the actress wore a fat suit but served herself more salad than pasta.
* In the second, she wore a fat suit and served herself more pasta than salad.
* In the third, she appeared without the fat suit and served herself more salad than pasta.
* In the fourth, she appeared without the fat suit and served herself more pasta than salad.

Then the researchers looked at how much the students ate. It wasn't a case of "I'll have what she's having." Even when the overweight person ate salad, her meal companions loaded up.

"When they are eating with overweight eating companions, regardless of what she serves herself, participants ate more pasta," [said Mitsuru Shimizu, one of the authors of the paper], who is now an assistant professor of psychology at Southern Illinois University. "They ate less salad even if the overweight person ate more [salad]."
A video at the link shows that, despite what this description of the experiment might suggest, participants did not sit down to dine with a fat person person in a fat suit, but followed her through a buffet line. The actress leads the line, and asks the "buffet line monitor" if she should take a second plate to separate her pasta and salad, to which the monitor replies yes, then instructs everyone else to do the same.

As I don't have access to the finished paper, I have no idea whether there were any controls to ensure it was not the instruction to fill two separate plates that might have encouraged greater consumption, rather than the mere presence of a fat person, with whom no one else is even interacting.

For some reason, I'm just dubious about the findings of MAGICAL FAT.

Naturally, the conclusion is not that fat is magical, ha ha no: "No matter how the actress served herself, people ate more pasta and less salad if she were wearing the fat suit. The reason? The researchers posit that when people are with someone who is overweight, they feel less motivated to be healthy."

Of course the researchers posit that. OF COURSE THEY DO.
"We have kind of healthy eating standards," says Shimizu. "That goal is unconsciously … less activated when we are eating with an overweight person."

The research isn't intended to fat-shame or pass the blame for our overeating. Instead, by understanding how environment and the people around us affects our eating habits, we can be more mindful of how much we're consuming.

"If we are eating with an overweight person, we are eating more," says Shimizu.
Ha ha heavens no! The research isn't intended to fat-shame or blame fat people! It's just to suggest that fat people are axiomatically unhealthy pigs whose grotesque disregard for their own bodies is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS. We just need to get this information out there so thin people can make good choices—like avoiding fat people!

If it is true that people eat more at the mere sight of a fatty, because of narratives that fat people are unhealthy gluttons, then, once again, I will note that the problem is not fat people. The problem is fat hatred.

That is not an insignificant distinction.

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