Food and Behaviour Research

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29 April 2015 - Eurekalert - An apple a day brings more apples your way

Healthy samples result in healthier choices at the grocery store

We have all been told not to grocery shop on an empty stomach, but what other tips can help us shop, and consequently eat, healthier? Cornell researchers Aner Tal, PhD and Brian Wansink, PhD (author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life) found that shoppers can be primed to buy more produce when they eat a healthy item before shopping. In fact, their new research, published in Psychology & Marketing, found that individuals who ate an apple sample before shopping bought 25% more fruits and vegetables than those who did not eat a sample!

Tal and Wansink conducted three studies to test their hypothesis that healthy snacks prime shoppers to make healthier food selections. In the first study, 120 shoppers were randomly given an apple sample, a cookie sample or no sample at the start of their shopping trip. The researchers then tracked their purchases and found that those who were given the apple sample bought 28% more fruits and vegetables than those given a cookie sample and 25% more fruits and vegetables than those given no sample. "What this teaches us," Tal explains, "is that having a small healthy snack before shopping can put us in a healthier mindset and steer us towards making better food choices."