Softer lighting and mellow music like soft jazz can influence people to eat less, a new study says. Despite ordering the same kind of food, the participants consumed 18 percent less calories.

A new study from Cornell University found that people who ate at fast food restaurants that had softer lighting and music consumed 175 less calories and enjoyed the food more than people who ate at brightly lit restaurants.

Researchers found that people who dine at places where the light and music are soft tend to eat around 18 percent less food than people who dine in a regular setting. The present study rejects a popular notion, which states that people order more food and eat more when they are at a relaxed environment.

In the study, researchers Brian Wansink from Cornell University and Dr. Koert Van Ittersum from Georgia Institute of Technology gave part of a fast food joint a makeover and converted it to a fine-dining place with soft light and music. Participants were randomly selected to eat at either the regular fast food setting or the fine dining part.

Participants were unobtrusively monitored as they ate their food and were asked to rate the food before they left.

Diners who ate at relaxed environments ordered the same kind of food but ate less. They were also more likely to enjoy their meal than people who ate at brightly lit environments.

"These results suggest that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption. This is important information for fast-food restaurants, which are often accused of contributing to obesity: Making simple changes away from brighter lights and sound-reflecting surfaces can go a long way toward reducing overeating - and increase their customers' satisfaction at the same time," Wansink said.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Reports.