How many of you eat what you see in front of you?
Visual stimulation has an impact on our decision making. Studies have found visual images (videos, photographs and graphics) have an influential role in guiding individual’s decisions and actions.
Seeing photos of food changes ordering habits according to one study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University. Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing with Brian Mennecke, an associate professor of information systems, added a digital display with rotating images of salads to a cafeteria in a summer camp for children aged 6-12 years old. After watching the digital display consisting of items from the salad bar: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, children began adding these items to their plates.
Boys were especially responsive. As high as 50 to 70 percent more likely to serve themselves salad.
The researchers attribute this increase of salad consumption to
‘the influence of environmental cues and images on consumer behaviour’
This is a positive example how the scientific behavioural theory has a significant impact on our food choices. However, we don’t see many stimulating visuals that promote the consumption of salad! Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite!
The fast food industry and fizzy drinks companies dominate our television advertising airtime. There is no question these consistent visual prompts are having a negative affect on food choices. It has to stop.
In 1965 all television commercials for cigarettes were banned. With the continuous smoking ban thereafter, the number of UK smokers has fallen by nearly 2 million in 10 years. We need to apply this success theory to the fast food industry.
Jamie Oliver’s campaign #AdEnough is doing just that. It is important we support this campaign and are successful in banning fast foods from television airtime before 9pm. We need to promote healthy eating habits, not encourage the consumption of junk food washed down with a sugar filled drink.
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