Healthy eaters jump on the bandwagon when a restaurant, grocery store, school cafeteria or family member make the foods accessible, and with enticing presentations that make it seem like an obvious choice, according to a new meta-analysis.

Working with 112 studies about healthy eating behaviours, the Cornell Food & Brand Lab in the US concluded that convenience, appeal and the idea that making healthy food choices is just the normal thing to do are three conditions that hook a new healthy eater.

“With these three principles, there are endless changes that can be made to lead people, including ourselves, to eat healthier,” says Brian Wansink, PhD of Cornell.

Using the kitchen fruit bowl as an example, Wansink remarks how the subject of countless still-life canvases makes fruit attractive, puts it within reach and presents it as the most normal staple known to mankind.

In the study, a bowl of fruit located next to one’s car keys helped subjects make the transition, as did a cafeteria that placed one next to a well-lit cash register.

In the cafeteria, diners were more likely to add a banana to their tray before paying than they were to ask for a serving of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that was buried in the freezer, according to the study.

Curiously, when restaurants highlight their high-profit items on the menu, giving them a name that tickles the taste buds, and ask the waitress to describe it as a special, customers are more likely to order them.

In cases where restaurants do this with healthy foods, those who order the special salmon with tarragon butter over a plate of beluga lentils, foregoing the fried onion rings, are likely to change their eating habits, according to the study.

Working with the younger set, Dr Wansink found that getting them to drink regular milk instead of chocolate milk was a question of putting the white milk on display where it was within reach in the front of the cooler.

Additionally, selling it in a shapely bottle and making it look like the normal thing to drink by giving it a maximum of space in the cooler increased consumption of regular milk by 30 to 60 per cent in schools, according to the study.

The study was published in the journal Psychology And Marketing along with another study by Wansink that says eating a healthy food item before going grocery shopping could lead you to make healthier choices. – AFP Relaxnews