It is all about taste: the crucial factor for the stimulationof healthy food consumption

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The problems of obesity and diet-related diseases are still growing and, due to its high burden on society, the need for a solution is more urgent than ever. Major progress could be achieved by increasing the consumption of healthy food and reducing the consumption of unhealthy food. However, prior research has shown that healthy food is perceived as less tasty, less filling and more expensive compared to unhealthy food. This is detrimental for the stimulation of healthy food consumption, and therefore healthy food should be made more attractive in terms of its tastiness, fillingness and expensiveness. The concept of metacognitive difficulty could be a useful method to achieve this desired effect, and as such the goal of this study was to examine to which extent fluency could affect the three implicit intuitions (tastiness, fillingness, and expensiveness) regarding food. It was expected that the implicit intuitions would be in favor of unhealthy food when the nutrition information was presented in a fluent manner, whereas a disfluent presentation would mitigate the strength of these implicit intuitions. Consequently, a disfluent presentation of the nutrition information of food could be used to stimulate the consumption of healthy food and impede the consumption of unhealthy food. The results of this study demonstrate that disfluency indeed could be a useful tool to influence the implicit intuitions about food. A disfluent presentation of the nutrition information mitigated the strength of the implicit intuitions that unhealthy food is tastier than healthy food and that unhealthy food is more filling than healthy food. For the implicit intuition of expensiveness, no difference was found between healthy and unhealthy food in both the fluent and disfluent condition. Furthermore, the effect of the implicit intuitions on the desire to eat and the purchase intention has been examined to understand the decision-making process behind food consumption. Taste is the crucial factor that influences food decisions when it comes to the desire to eat and purchase intentions. Thus, improving the perceived tastiness of healthy food would be most effective to stimulate the consumption of healthy food, something that can be achieved by presenting nutrition information in a disfluent way.
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