Ordering Food Online Might Mean Consuming More Calories

A recent study found that ordering your meals online isn’t so good for your waistline.
pizza on a computer screen

99354063

Laptop Computer with a Pizza on its Display

Photo by: Anastasiya Maksymenko

Anastasiya Maksymenko

Ordering food online is as easy as a click of a button. Plus you avoid the long lines and there’s no human interaction. But a recent study found that ordering your meals online isn’t so good for your waistline.

The Study

A 2012 study by Ryan McDevitt, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business, examined the patterns of people who ordered food by phone or at the counter from a franchised pizza establishment compared with those who ordered online. They looked at over 160,000 orders made by over 56,000 unique customers over 4 years. The most notable differences between those who ordered online compared to those who ordered over the phone or in person included:

  • Customers ordering online spent $0.61 more (4%), on average, though they ordered fewer items. The increase in cost was due to increased toppings.
  • The items ordered online were 15% more complex and had 6.1% more calories.
Understanding the Results

Although ordering online may be easier, it seems to be a good vehicle for customers to go a little overboard (like adding quadruple the bacon topping) without feeling guilty. The researcher concluded that folks probably feel less inhibited when they’re ordering online—which makes a lot of sense. When you quadruple a fatty topping over the phone or in-person, you may feel like the person who’s taking your order is judging you. Luckily, the computer doesn’t judge or give you a funny look when you order something a little more complicated.

Bottom Line

Don’t hide behind the computer screen! Be conscious of the order you’re placing and make it a healthier one.

TELL US: Do you order take-out online?

Next Up

The Best Giant Foods You Can Buy Online Right Now

Giant burgers, cupcakes, doughnuts and more take supersized food to the next level.

Why You Should Be Eating More Prebiotic Foods

These gut-healthy foods are just as important as probiotics.

7 Foods We Should Eat More of in 2023

From zero-proof drinks to convenient weeknight sheet pan recipes, here’s what dietitians hope we’ll all eat more of in 2023.

Volumetrics: Take in Fewer Calories by Eating More

Volumetrics is a concept developed by Dr. Barbara Rolls that allows you to eat MORE foods (like fruit and vegetables) while consuming fewer calories.

Thanksgiving Food Swaps to Save Calories

Make 9 changes and cut out a staggering 2000 calories at your Thanksgiving dinner.

Foods High in Calories and Protein

Because low-calorie foods really aren't always the best choice.

In the News: More Recalls, Soda Taxes & Over-the-Top Food Calories

From this week’s headlines: The scoop on Hasselbeck’s book lawsuit, more food recalls, prepping carrots for better health and 5 foods with unbelievably high calories.

New USDA Online Food Log: SuperTracker

The USDA has released and online food-and-exercise tracker to help you stay healthy. This accompanies their latest food guide, MyPlate.

Diet Myths, Debunked: Exercising in the Heat Burns More Calories

The sweltering weather is here. Does this mean that you should be exercising at high noon is best in order to burn more calories? Let’s examine this myth and see what it’s all about.

Football Season Means Brisket Season for Food Network

For the 2011 football season, Food Network is offering beef brisket sandwiches to six NFL stadiums. Read the menu and find out if it's available at a stadium near you.