The position of food, alcohol, and tobacco in the store can have a big impact on what people buy and consume. Our food environment can help us make healthier choices and avoid chronic illness.
More about food environment and healthy choices
The physical environments around us can play a big role in our health‐related behavior. Changing these environments can therefore change our behavior and choices related to health. For example, the placement of food, alcohol, and tobacco products in our physical environment can impact what we buy, eat, and drink. Eating too much food, drinking too much alcohol, and using tobacco products can each lead to increased risk for chronic disease. For example, it can increase risk of diabetes.
So, what contributes to overeating, drinking too much, and smoking tobacco? Does it start in the grocery store?
These researchers asked two main questions. First, they wondered if changing the availability of these products would change what people select and consume. Second, would changing the proximity (or distance of these products to an individual) change what people buy and consume? The answer to both questions was yes. Changing availability and proximity of these products did in fact change behavior. For example, researchers found that placing less-healthy snacks farther away from entrances or checkout stands, and placing healthier food options in the front of the store made a big impact on what people bought. Therefore, this also impacted what they ate and drank once they got home.
Why is this important? This study proves that changing the number of food options and the location of foods can help people make healthier choices. For example, increasing the number of healthy options in a store can impact what people buy and what they eat. This can actually make people healthier as a result. Going forward, these researchers hope that by looking at food environments, they can help people stay healthy and avoid diseases like diabetes.
Photo credit Peter Bond at Unsplash.