Recent studies have revealed that the positioning of food products in supermarkets and the increased availability of healthier options can play a significant role in influencing people to make healthier grocery purchases.
Research conducted in the UK demonstrated that by enhancing the accessibility of healthier alternatives within a particular category, notable changes in purchasing behavior were observed. For example, placing low-fat chips alongside regular chips resulted in a significant decrease in the sales of regular chips (-23% in stores where the intervention was implemented, compared to only -4% in control stores).
Another study found that removing promotional displays of chocolates and sweets, typically seen during occasions like Easter and Christmas, helped reduce the usual seasonal surge in sales for those items. Instead of an 18% increase as observed in control stores, the sales of these products only rose by 5% in stores where the interventions were applied.
The Western dietary patterns often consist of higher proportions of energy derived from saturated fat and free sugars than the recommended levels. The findings from these studies highlight how supermarkets can adopt simple strategies to facilitate adherence to the recommended dietary guidelines.
How To Make Better Choices While Shopping?
To make better choices while shopping at supermarkets, one effective approach is to prioritize whole foods whenever possible, while limiting the consumption of highly processed items. Fill your cart with an assortment of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, wholegrain breads, cereals, healthy oils, moderate amounts of dairy, fish, and no more than 700-750g of raw meat per person per week.
If you're craving a treat, opting for a small block of dark chocolate is a wise choice. Although it may be less cost-effective than purchasing a larger block, it enables you to keep your portions within a healthy range.
Alternatively, you can stock up on unsweetened yogurt and pair it with fresh or canned fruits and berries. Even better, consider preparing your own homemade treats using healthier baking recipes. By doing so, you have complete control over the ingredients, portion sizes, and it encourages mindful eating and savoring the goodness of your homemade delights.
Article sources and references
- C Piernas, G Harmer, S Jebb Removing seasonal confectionery from prominent store locations and purchasing behaviour within a major UK supermarket: Evaluation of a nonrandomised controlled intervention study. Plos Medicine Published: March 24, 2022 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003951
- Scimex, 25 March 2022. Can supermarkets nudge people into buying healthier food? Accessed March 2022