Choices and Context (01-09-19)

The types of foods present nearby influence eating options selected.  A study completed by Huettel and Sullivan and published in Psychological Sciencedetermined that “the nearby presence of an indulgent treat can cause more people to opt for a healthy food. . . . ‘When people choose foods, they don’t simply reach into their memory and pick the most-preferred food. Instead, how much we prefer something actually depends on what other options are available,’ Huettel said. ‘If you see one healthy food and one unhealthy food, most people will choose the indulgent food,” he said. “But if you add more unhealthy foods, it seems, suddenly the healthy food stands out.’ . . . ‘When people see a wall of cabbage and broccoli, that may not encourage people to choose it,’ Sullivan said. ‘Right now, food items are very segregated: here’s the produce, here are the candy bars,’ she said. ‘Yet maybe if we put something healthy in the middle of the snack food section, perhaps that might encourage people to choose it.’”

“Context Shapes Choice of Healthy Foods.”  2019.  Press release, Association for Psychological Science,