ISLAMABAD: What we eat for lunch in the canteen and buy in the supermarket for dinner depends on the order in which the dishes are presented to us, and how easy it is to get to the products; this is the conclusion of a collaborative review of existing research.
"The review confirmed our expectation that there are very few scientific works available which deal with nudging healthier food choices by changes in the position of the food offers. We also corroborated that changing the organization of buffets, supermarkets and the other environments where people come across food can contribute to people eating more healthily," said Associate Professor Federico J. A. Perez-Cueto from the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
He expects food nudging in canteens to be one of the hot topics when it comes to interventions aimed at promoting healthy eating habits.
"There is already some activity in the area, and changing eating towards healthier behaviour is going to be the challenge for the next couple of years. Together with the big retail companies and the food industry such as canteens, we will have to think about whether the focus is just to keep business as usual - or if it is also about keeping the population healthy, and preserving the environment," said Federico J. A. Perez-Cueto.
He states however that nudging is just one tool in the box.
"If you want people to eat enough vegetables, it is not the only thing to do, there is need for policies, recommendations, voluntary agreements, information campaigns, but nudging can contribute, and we think the contribution can be substantial," he said.
The review also concludes that there is a need for high-quality studies that quantify the magnitude of positional effects on food choice in conjunction with measuring the impact on food intake, particularly in the longer term. Future studies should use outcome measures such as change in quantities of food consumed or energy intake to quantify the impact on dietary intake and the potential impact on nutrition-related health.