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Abstract

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that at least 68% of U.S. adults aged 20 and older are overweight with BMIs of 25+. A major component of this problem is the decision to habitually consume high quantities of low-nutrient, high-calorie foods (NIH, 2012). This study uses an artefactual field experiment on food choice, conducted in a large Midwestern U.S. city during fall 2015, to explore whether product bundles (consisting of primarily fruit & vegetable (F&V) items) can serve as a behavioral intervention to increase F&V selection. Also of interest was determining whether shopping under cognitive load influenced both item and bundle selection using a dual-self framework, and whether bundles need offer a price discount. Study participants shopped a grocery display under one of six different treatments, with differences examined among the proportion of items selected from three categories: Fruit and Vegetables, Junk Food/Snacks, and Protein/Dairy/Grains. The proportions of items selected by category were also analyzed using a fractional multinomial regression model. Results uncover that product bundles need not offer a price discount in order to effectively increase F&V selection. In fact, discounted bundles were counterproductive at increasing F&Vs when shoppers were under high cognitive load. Product bundles may be preferred by consumers as a means through which to lessen the cognitive strain of the shopping process, and could serve as a potential behavioral intervention to increase retail F&V sales.

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