Duke University Logo While ordering combination menu items most diners may not realize that they will be consuming larger amounts of unhealthy food. And quite a few individuals are aware about the negative impact of eating food which is not healthy. A latest study suggests that going for ‘value meals’ offered by fast-food restaurants raises calorie intake.

During the study, investigators surveyed 215 U.S. adults over the age of 21 years who ate at a fast-food restaurant at least once a month. All the volunteers were selected from a demographically diverse sample of the U.S. population. It was noted that 26 percent increased the size of the meal bundle when given the combo meal option. Intake of more than 100 additional calories per meal was probably preferred than a la carte menu items available at the same prices. Participants were made to imagine that they were traveling on a cross-country road trip and stopping at nine different fast-food outlets.

Then for each hypothetical outlet, Richard Staelin from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and colleagues made the subjects view pictures of the types of menu items they could choose entrees, drinks and fries. Participants were also provided with the amount that they would be spending on their selected meals. Apart from the imaginary road trip, volunteers were also offered further meal choices with varying portion sizes and item combinations for a total of 33 meal selection options. It was concluded that consumers respond positively to the perceived cost-savings and the simplified ordering process of a value meal than a la carte options. The findings were registered even when no cost savings were linked with choosing the combo meal.

The study is published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.