Messaging on healthy foods may not prompt healthier purchases, study finds

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Messaging on healthy foods may not prompt healthier purchases, study finds
Supermarket aisle. Credit: Franki Chamaki by means of Unsplash

Balanced food items cues standing by itself do not prompt more healthy acquiring choices, but they may possibly counter advertising for sugary and fatty food items, claims a analyze co-authored by Cambridge scientists.

People producing foods-buying choices are typically confronted with adverts or other descriptions these as “low calorie” (nutritious) or “tasty” (fewer wholesome) to influence their choices, so how effective are well being-conscious nudges in moving consumer conduct toward much healthier lifestyles?

A research published in the journal Hunger finds that healthy cues standing alone have, amazingly, minor impression in prompting extra wholesome getting conclusions, whilst “hedonic” or satisfaction-linked cues cut down healthier options by 3%.

When nutritious and non-balanced prompts are presented at the identical time, nevertheless, the healthy prompts had a protective result in fully neutralizing the non-healthful nudges, potentially by triggering an “alarm bell” to activate handle processes.

The analyze was based mostly on 1,200 Dutch individuals and the sample was selected to be consultant of age, gender, and profits for the Netherlands.

The analyze fills some crucial gaps in knowledge how these cues influence foods-getting selections. Previous experiments had mostly been primarily based on compact samples and narrow populations (this sort of as college learners), and had been dependent on healthful messages standing alone alternatively than along with non-healthful cues.

“The practical impacts of our results are two-fold: the outcomes forged doubt on the performance of wellbeing-goal cues to raise balanced food stuff options, but they advise that healthier primes could protect against much less wholesome food possibilities by countering hedonic cues through the conversation of the competing messages,” reported co-writer Lucia Reisch, El-Erian Professor of Behavioral Economics & Plan and Director of the El-Erian Institute of Behavioral Economics & Plan at Cambridge Decide Business School.

The results have been mostly unaffected by elements such as gender, starvation, nutritional restraint and physique mass index. The study’s methodology mimicked an on the internet supermarket, and introduced the competing healthier and hedonic cues by advertising banners for cooking recipes—which contained texts such as this sort of phrases as “nutritious” or “very low in energy” (with pictures of lower-caloric meals these kinds of as a quinoa salad), and “just delightful” or “heavenly enjoyment” (with photos of tempting foodstuff higher in unwanted fat or sugar these kinds of as an apple tart). To exam healthy or non-healthy messages standing by yourself, the influence on selection was as opposed with advertising banners unrelated to foods this kind of as tissues.

Participants built 18 choices by way of the mock supermarket, each time picking out a single item out of six alternatives (a few balanced and three not) by means of a mouse click on.

Based on previous expertise of wellness-target priming effects, the scientists had hypothesized that wellness aim cues would end result in much more balanced food stuff selections.

“Our results do not assist this hypothesis,” the research states. “Given the high statistical power of the present research, our noticed null outcome forged some question on the generalizability of the repeated positive results of wellbeing goal priming to the inhabitants degree.” The investigate did obtain that the placement of the advertising banners mattered, with extra healthful choices ensuing when the healthy primary was in the major placement rather than a lower place.

“From a community health and fitness viewpoint, the reality that we utilized really related stimuli to modify conduct through a overall health and a hedonic primary but only managed to cut down wholesome choices when compared to neutral manage is relevant,” concludes the review, which utilizes the time period “prime” to describe cues or nudges.

“If it is, all else equivalent, a lot easier to activate hedonic plans via environmental cues, general public overall health campaigns will be at a technical disadvantage in contrast to efforts as a result of food stuff advertisement and marketing campaigns. Further study really should replicate our findings to examination irrespective of whether the observed dissimilarities concerning wellness and hedonic targets ended up joined to our specific experimental design and style or are common.”

Food cues undermine healthier taking in selections

More details:
Jan M. Bauer et al, Fight of the primes—The effect and interplay of overall health and hedonic primes on meals choice, Urge for food (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2022.105956

Furnished by
College of Cambridge

Messaging on healthful food items might not prompt more healthy buys, examine finds (2022, June 28)
retrieved 7 July 2022

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