Meal order reversal: Effects of eating a sweet course first or last

Barbara J. Rolls, Louise J. Laster, Ann Summerfelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The aim of the experiment was to determine the effects of eating a sweet food either as a first course or as a third course on intake during a three-course lunch. Twenty normal weight, non-dieting male subjects were run twice in a counterbalanced design. The first and third courses were interchanged and consisted of either a sweet (candy bar) or savory (cheese or crackers) food, both of similar palatabilities and energy densities. Intake of these foods, when they were eaten as a first course, was the same. The two first courses had no differential effects on intake of the middle course (spaghetti with meat sauce and a salad), which was the same in both conditions. Intakes in the third course did not differ significantly between conditions, but intake was slightly higher when the candy was eaten. Intake of the candy bar was similar in the first and third courses, but intake of the cheese on crackers was significantly lower (p < 0.0007) as the third course. Total energy intake over the entire meal was 6% higher when the candy bar was eaten last, but this was not significant. Thus, there was no indication that eating candy as a first course affected appetite and food intake differently from eating the same amount of a non-sweet food such as cheese on crackers, which was similar in energy density and palatability. However, more studies with different foods in a situation more similar to a normal meal are needed before it can be concluded that sweet and savory foods at the start or end of a meal always have the same effects on appetite and food intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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