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

How to get people to buy healthy food?

Many hope that advertising for healthy food and related 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 buying decisions.

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

Are you shopping healthier with the right advertising?

Through advertising and product references Buying decisions influenced, the researchers point out. The question therefore arose about the effectiveness of health-conscious information in influencing consumer behavior in the direction of a healthier lifestyle to steer?

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

Participants had to shop online 18 times

In the study, the a Online supermarket imitated. In this they were competing healthy and fun-related ideas through advertising banners. So were the products like healthy or few calories excellent and showed pictures of low calorie meals.

Or banner ads on unhealthy foods advertised with claims like simply delicious or heavenly pleasure and images of tempting foods high in fat or sugar (like apple pie).

Participants walked through the simulated supermarket 18 times and each time made their choice at the click of a mouse a product of six alternatives. These were three healthy and three unhealthy products.

Just healthier buying decisions with healthy tips

According to the researchers, only references to healthy products have little contributedthat attendees made healthier buying decisions. On the contrary, the hints of enjoyment have reduced the choice of healthy products three percent.

Whether healthy or fun-related indications were used at the same timewar no effect ascertainable, according to the team.

Important ad placement

Experts also found that the placement of advertising banners played an important role. It was found that attendees made healthier choices while shopping when the Health declaration at the top and not in the lowest position.

Weaknesses of previous investigations

The research fills some gaps in understanding how health care product signals influence food purchasing decisions, some of which are due to the fact that previous studies tended to rely on small samples and very 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 present study do not support this hypothesis.

The findings 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.

While it is easier to trigger pleasure-related goals through environmental stimuli, all things being equal, public health campaigns are technically at a disadvantage compared to food advertising and marketing campaigns, the team says.

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

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

Information on the author and source

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


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

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and is not to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.

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