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For A Better Dining Experience, Please Be Seated

Dr. Dipayan Biswas by the "Steak Tippin'" food truck on the USF Tampa campus
Lisa Peakes
Dr. Dipayan Biswas by the "Steak Tippin'" food truck on the USF Tampa campus

If you want to enjoy the food you're eating more, a sensory marketing expert from the University of South Florida suggests you have a seat.

Unless it's broccoli - then you might want to stand up.

Dipayan Biswas, a marketing professor at the USF Muma College of Business, has found that people generally have a better dining experience when they are sitting down.

"Our body reacts differently when we are standing versus when we are sitting," he said, pointing out some physiological reasons why this is true.

"The blood pumping rate, certain hormone productions, they change when you're sitting versus standing."

Stress also plays a role. 

"In general, when you're standing, the stress level is higher, because the body has to work harder to get the blood pumping up," said Biswas. "So when you're a little bit more stressed, our sensory sensitivity goes down. So food doesn't taste as good standing as they would when you're sitting."

READ MORE: See previous WUSF News stories on Biswas' sensory marketing research

Biswas's research, which appears in the Journal of Consumer Research, is of interest to retail chains that sell food and that have options for both sitting and standing.

"There's a big trend in Europe and Asia for eating while standing," he said. "And some of these Asian chains, when they're coming to the U.S., they're going forward with the same setup, but you stand and eat only."

That may be an advantage in crowded cities were land is expensive, and retail spaces are at a premium because you can fit in more people standing.

On the other hand,  said Biswas, "you lose out on the taste aspect. When you're standing, the food doesn't taste as good as when you're sitting."

An exception to the rule? Bad-tasting foods. Biswas points to the example of children and broccoli.

"In general, lot of children don't like broccoli," said Biswas, "they find the taste of broccoli pretty disgusting. It's a worldwide phenomenon."

He suggests a simple approach to getting kids to eat their veggies is make them eat them standing up.

"The taste is not that intense. It's less unpleasant."

Biswas added there may be benefits to standing for those who are trying to lose weight. His research found that people eat less when they're standing, possibly because the food doesn't taste that good. 

Also, "standing is a very mild form of cardio compared to sitting. So it's like not exactly cardio, but your heart is actually working harder to pump up the blood when you're standing," said Biswas. "When you're sitting, your body's more relaxed. So there are some physical advantages if you're standing, you're at a more active physical state."

After more than 40 years learning and helping others understand more about so many aspects of our world and living in it, I still love making connections between national news stories and our community. It's exciting when I can find a thread between a national program or greater premise and what is happening at the local or personal level. This has been true whether I’ve spun the novelty tunes of Raymond Scott or Wilmoth Houdini from a tiny outpost in a Vermont field, or shared the voices of incarcerated women about what it’s like to be behind bars on Mother’s Day with the entire state of New Hampshire.
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