This is (one reason) why we snack on junk food

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A recent study straight out of the Netherlands has found that if healthy food is on display instead of junk food, you are more likely to buy and therefore eat healthy food.

Think about your daily grind, sometimes your running so late that you don’t have time to eat at home before work, you haven’t eaten breakfast yet and you are STARVING. You go to buy your daily coffee and as you start to feel the hunger you see on the counter a selection of chocolate chip muesli bars, so you grab one to quickly eat with your coffee on the train.

But what if there were no muesli bars in sight? Or if they were at the very back or somewhere less obvious and instead there were protein balls and apples right near the cash register?

GIF Romy and Michelles High School Reunion
When your life’s a mess and the only snacks at the station are lollies.

If we only see healthy snacks, this new study says, that is what we will go for instead of seeking out unhealthy snacks.

As it turns out, it’s all about what you can see.

The psychology study conducted by researchers at Utrecht University in December 2017, tested the effects of re-positioning healthy foods as an effective tool to encourage people to snack healthier.

The study was conducted over an 8-week period, the first 4 weeks were re-positioning healthy products at the checkout counter to be more visible, while unhealthy alternatives remained in the aisles of the store.

In these first 4 weeks, results showed that healthy product food sales were higher, showing that if you see healthy snacks instead of junk food you are likely to buy the healthy alternatives and not seek out chocolate to snack on.

This kind of technique is called “nudging” and essentially means nudging the consumer towards buying healthy options by positioning them in front of junk food, or placing the junk food somewhere throughout the store instead of at the easily accessible checkout counter.

So how do you avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacking?

Now you know why you’re going for the unhealthy snack plan ahead for those travel days, bake up a big batch of healthy muesli cookies to grab with you on the go when you don’t have time for breakfast at home and choose cafes you know have just healthy snacks available.

Milly Haddrick


Milly is passionate about the issues and concerns of women navigating their way through the world of sex, dating and relationships, with a side passion for brie, dark chocolate and red wine.

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