New study gets more people buying healthy foods

A new study, order the first of its kind in the UK, indicates that shoppers are more likely to buy healthy foods in the supermarket if faced with strong visual health prompts at point of sale.

Led by Damian Edwards, Behavioural Advisor to the National Obesity Forum, the Healthier Choices Pilot saw the sale of fresh fruit rise by 20% and the sale of frozen fruit by nearly 30% in a trial supermarket over a 15 week period. 

In the Morrisons Salford Supermarket, Edwards installed life size cut outs of doctors and nurses by the fruit and veg section with ‘Let’s Shop Healthier’ slogans around the store and outside. Floor stickers at the fish counter also provided further prompts. Free ‘bags for life’ were also available for shoppers to pick up at the fresh produce section when purchasing fruit or vegetables.

Welcomed by both the National Obesity Forum and the Department of Health, the aim of the study was to discover if there is a low-cost sustainable way of positively affecting shopping habits that could promote healthier food choices. 

Traditional health promotion provides detailed literature and messages around how and why particular types of food might be good for us. This new study simply arranged striking life-size images of health professionals in uniform positioned next to the target foods. The images seemed to trigger a phenomenon known as ‘Priming’ i.e. the idea that individuals may become pre-disposed to make certain choices in one environment if influenced by triggers in a previous or linked environment.

If applied at supermarkets nationwide the initiative could increase the average daily consumption of fruit and as such improve the health of the two thirds of the population who are not currently eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg daily.

 

Report available for download: www.healthierchoicespilot.com 

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