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Experiment shows timely info may prompt purchase of fiber-rich foods

Food Science


Posted January 12, 2021 by Scott Schrage

Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.

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What?

Though dietary fiber assists digestion, promotes weight loss, lowers “bad” cholesterol and helps control blood sugar, just 5% of Americans consume recommended amounts of it.

Research suggests that the deficiency stems in part from an ignorance of fiber’s health benefits and an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality when grocery shopping.

So what?

Point-of-decision prompts — messages that encourage shoppers to consider health when making a purchase — have shown promise for convincing people to buy nutritious foods.

Nebraska’s Christopher Gustafson, Devin Rose and recent master’s graduate Kristina Arslain conducted a simulated online shopping experiment in which 753 participants randomly received either no prompt or information about the health benefits of fiber. The participants were also given nutritional data, including fiber content, for the 33 cereals, 33 breads and 33 crackers offered to them.

Those receiving the informational prompts “purchased” cereals and breads containing an average of 22% more fiber, along with crackers containing 26% more. The prompted purchases also boasted higher overall nutrition ratings.

Now what?

Embedding more point-of-decision prompts in actual websites and grocery stores could encourage shoppers to purchase foods rich in fiber and other neglected nutrients.

Future studies should continue investigating how the prompts influence decision-making, the researchers said.