A study conducted in Stockholm, Sweden, led by the University of South Florida Muma College of Business, has looked into how the volume of music in a restaurant or café can have an impact on whether or not customers make healthy or unhealthy food choices.

“A pilot study, two field experiments, and five lab studies show that low (vs. high or no) volume music leads to increased sales of healthy foods due to induced relaxation,” the study claimed. “In contrast, high volume music tends to enhance excitement levels, which in turn leads to unhealthy food choices.”

When exposed to music playing at 50 decibels, the equivalent of a normal conversation, 32 percent of customers chose food classified as healthy such as salads, vegetable wraps and granola. Food choices when the music was playing at 70 decibels – roughly as loud as a vacuum cleaner – trended towards burgers, chips, fudge cookies and cheese sandwiches, with only 25 percent of consumers choosing the healthier options.

The paper concluded that the higher music volumes contributed to stress in the consumer, leading them to choose comfort foods higher in fat and sugar.