Preventing Obesity

The Lempert Report
August 10, 2022

Phil: So Sally, there's this new study that says you can prevent obesity in the grocery aisle by changing your packaging. Now, for years, you know, we've talked about how the color of packaging affects certain, you know, motivations for people, but what this report says, and this comes out of the Toronto metropolitan university and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. What they're saying is the image size on the package itself, and they give an example of gummy bears and Pringles and so on, makes the larger the image, the more you want that product, what do you think?

Sally: Well, I think that becomes an issue for those of us that, maybe trying to avoid junk foods that are heavily marketed to us. You know, these products are all competing for our attention in the supermarket, but we are in a country where 40% of our population is obese. And so this, this type of packaging is really frightening to me, if it is grabbing the attention of people and it's on junk foods. 

Phil: Yeah. And what they point out is the amount of junk food that we are eating is unbelievable here in the US. 58% of all food that we eat is processed. Their recommendation, something that you and I have talked about for years, is that consumers should read the entire nutrition label front and back to make the best informed decisions and not to be swayed by what the image on a package looks like. Red significantly increases of food perceived taste, green increases the food's perceived healthiness, but also it's important to understand is these things change. Red has not changed, but green.,. when I went to Prat and studied packages on, you would never use green on a food package, because that put in people's minds mold, that it went bad. You know, white meant healthiness meant more purity and yellow. And this study doesn't talk about yellow, but yellow actually makes the package look larger than a competitive product. So I guess the up shot of all this research and it's great, is that marketers need to understand this. You've got those marketers who want to understand it, to fool people, but also marketers have a responsibility, to really, you know, understand what motivates people. And what they're calling for in this research are regulations about the size of images that could be on a product. Now, when you pick up a food product, you'll see, you know, little words underneath the picture, you know, illustration or, you know, larger size to show detail, things like that. And they're saying, let's get rid of that stuff so that people don't want to eat those products. Like, you know, an oversized potato chip. 

Sally: Yeah. It sounds like something that could actually work. You know, it's interesting that you brought up the yellow. I did not know that. And it made me think of when I was a kid and all the generic brands in the supermarket were the big, you know, the big yellow box of cereal. 

Phil: Yup. 

Sally: Was a generic brand. And, so yeah, these are very interesting concepts that we don't even realize we're being influenced by when we're shopping. 

Phil: Yeah. Well, you know, you gotta go shopping when you're not hungry, when you're not in a good mood, when you're not in a bad mood, and now with your eyes closed.