The findings, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, report on a series of food choices studies.
In one study, study participants were asked to make a sequence of four choices from 16 items that were considered healthy (i.e. raisins, celery sticks, and cheerios) or indulgent (i.e. chocolate bars, cookies, ice cream, and doughnuts). Half of the participants were asked to choose items for themselves, while the others were asked to choose items for a friend.
Interestingly, when the participants were making choices for themselves, they chose a balance of healthy and indulgent food items. However, when it came to choosing items for others, participants chose mostly indulgent items.
The author conducted another study of real consumers exiting a supermarket, which confirmed the earlier results, and showed that consumers were more likely to opt for indulgent items when purchasing for their families, friends, or roommates.
The study author suggests that education could help consumers make more balanced choices when they are shopping for others. To learn more about how your own diet shapes up, and where you can make improvements, check out Leslie Beck's range of nutrition programs and services, including a personalized diet analysis.
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