The way food, alcohol, and tobacco are positioned in the store and how many options are provided can have a big impact on helping people 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. There is a lot of evidence that eating too much food, drinking too much alcohol, and using tobacco products can each lead to increased risk for chronic disease, including diabetes.

What contributes to overeating, drinking too much, and smoking tobacco? Does it start in the grocery store? The researchers of this study asked two main questions. First, they wondered if changing the availability of these products (including food, alcohol, and tobacco) would change what people select and consume. Second, would changing the proximity (or distance of these products to an individual) change what people buy consume? The answer to both questions was yes; changing availability and proximity of food, alcohol, and tobacco did in fact change behavior. For example, the researchers found that placing less-healthy snack foods farther away from entrances or checkout stands and placing healthier food options in more easily accessible places in the store made a big impact on what people bought, and likely what they ate and drank once they got home.

Why is this important? This study proves that changing the number of available food options and changing where foods are positioned 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, making them healthier as a result. Going forward, these researchers hope that by examining food environments, they can promote health and help people avoid serious diseases, including diabetes.

[Abstract Link]

Photo credit Peter Bond at Unsplash.