Study of the Day: Online Ordering Is Making You Fat

Poor, too.

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When you're just too tired to cook, ordering food to be delivered can be a welcome treat. But according to a new study, it has some significant drawbacks.

An assistant professor at the University of Rochester tracked 160,000 orders placed at a North Carolina pizza chain. He discovered that online orders were 15 percent more complex, 4 percent pricier and 6 percent more calorific then orders placed by the same people in person or for pick-up. One example: people quadrupled their bacon toppings when ordering online.

The researcher told the Wall Street Journal that he suspects ordering online makes people feel less inhibited. "They have the same choices as before, but they're removing the social transaction costs," he told The Journal. "From my own personal experience, I feel more comfortable ordering something online than at the counter."

His research could have an impact beyond calorie-loaded pizzas. According to NPR:

"Because the potential embarrassment experienced from purchasing a pizza is comparatively limited, an even more dramatic shift in the sales distribution seems likely for more sensitive products when consumers become able to transact anonymously," the paper says.

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About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.