We may not be as healthy as we think. That is, according to a new study from Dartmouth college that found that, though we may think we know how to choose the healthiest foods when we’re grocery shopping, and we might even think we have enough self-control to forgo the junk foods, but knowledge and self-control don’t have as much effect on our grocery shopping decision making skills as we thought they did.
So what really does drive us to choose this bread over that bread or those chicken breasts instead of these? Price, price and, oh yeah, price. “Prices, what we see in the marketplace, affect our shopping much more than we realize,” said Kusum Ailawadi, a marketing professor at the Tuck School of Business, who led the study. “Even with all good intentions, with our concern for nutrition, when we see something that’s too expensive and we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. When we see something on sale, we buy it, even though it may not be very good for us.”
On top of price, health-conscious consumers also tend to be more influenced by the claims on the front of the package such as “low-fat” or “low-sugar,” thinking these products will be healthier and wiser choices when in fact, the lack of fat may be made up for with more sodium and less sugar may mean more artificial chemicals. “Consumers need to be more careful about their choices,” Ailawadi said. “They should not buy a product claiming to be ‘low fat’ or ‘low sodium’ without reading the rest of the nutritional information on the package.”
The researchers who performed this study hope that their findings will influence food marketers and policy makers who are interested in lowering the rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems which can be dependent on nutrition. “My advice to marketers, like it or not, people are going to have to get more careful about what they eat because disease is much more expensive to manage otherwise,” Ailawadi said. “If you want to keep your consumer franchise and not lose them completely, then make better products, make healthier products.”
Many retailers and legislators are fighting against price-related solutions and insist that continued nutrition education is the best route to take. However, Ailawadi thinks the answer may lie in a fat tax or a sugar tax similar to the tobacco tax which helped to cut down the rate of smoking in our country. If price really is the biggest driving factor, making junk food more expensive than truly healthy food will go a long way towards combating nutrition-related illnesses in America.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: GROCERY SHOPPING by Mary Thompson. Used under a creative commons license.
This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.