Does health-related advertising lead to healthier shopping? – healing practice

How do you get people to buy healthy food?

Many hope that advertising for healthy foods and corresponding product information will have a direct effect on this buying behavior. However, according to a recent study, health-related information hardly seems to lead to healthier purchasing decisions.

In a new study involving experts from University of Cambridge examined how advertising and health policy incentives to buy food affect population levels. The results were published in the English-language journal “Appetite”.

Healthier shopping through the right advertising?

Through advertising and references to products Influenced purchasing decisions, emphasize the researchers. The question therefore arose as to how effective health-conscious information is in influencing consumer behavior in the direction of a healthier lifestyle to steer?

In the current study were aimed at clarifying this question now 1,200 Dutch participants studied, selected to be representative of age, gender and income in the Netherlands, the team explains.

Participants had to shop online 18 times

In the study, a Online Supermarket imitated. In this there were competing healthy and enjoyment related hints through advertising banners. So were the products as healthy or low calorie excellent and showed pictures of low calorie meals.

Or the advertising banners on unhealthy foods advertised with statements like simply delicious or heavenly pleasure and images of tempting foods high in fat or sugar (such as apple pie).

The participants went through the simulated supermarket 18 times and made their choice with a mouse click each time a product of six alternatives. These were three healthy and three unhealthy products.

Hardly healthier purchasing decisions through healthy hints

According to the researchers, the references to healthy products alone have hardly contributedthat the participants made healthier purchasing decisions. In contrast, hints related to enjoyment reduced the selection of healthy products three percent.

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If healthy or enjoyment-related indications were used simultaneouslywar no effect ascertainable, according to the team.

Ad placement important

The experts also found that the placement of advertising banners played an important role. It was found that participants made more healthy choices when shopping when the Health statement at the top and not in a lower position.

Weaknesses of previous investigations

The research fills some gaps in understanding of how health product cues influence food purchasing decisions, some of which are due to the fact that previous studies have tended to rely on small samples and highly limited populations, the team explains.

Based on previous evidence, the team actually hypothesized that health goal cues would lead to healthier food choices. However, the results of the current study do not support this hypothesis.

The results raise doubts about the effectiveness of health goal cues in promoting healthy food choices‘ explains the author of the study Lucy Reisch in a press release.

If, all else being equal, it’s easier to activate pleasure-related goals through environmental stimuli, public health campaigns are technically at a disadvantage compared to food advertising and marketing campaigns, the team says.

However, experts also note that when both healthy and unhealthy cues are presented at the same time, the healthy cues have a protective effectby the completely neutralize unhealthy impulses.

Further research is now warranted to verify whether the observed differences between health and pleasure-related goals are related to the specific experimental design or whether they are general. (as)

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Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of medical specialist literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Jan M. Bauer, Laura N. van der Laan, Gert-Jan deBruijn, Lucia A. Reisch: Battle of the primes – The effect and interplay of health and hedonic primes on food choice; in: Appetite (veröffentlicht Volume 172, 01.05.2022), Appetite
  • University of Cambridge: Messaging on healthy foods may not prompt healthier purchases: study (veröffentlicht 28.06.2022), University of Cambridge

Important NOTE:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.



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