SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - EuropeUS edition | Asian edition

News > Market Trends

Read more breaking news

 

 
dispatches from ISA conference 2014

Behavioural economist: Do the nutritional thinking for people if you want change

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+

09-Apr-2014
Last updated on 09-Apr-2014 at 14:35 GMT2014-04-09T14:35:37Z

“We have to eat several times a day and we can’t be working that out like it’s solving a mathematical problem every time,” according to a behavioural economist.
“We have to eat several times a day and we can’t be working that out like it’s solving a mathematical problem every time,” according to a behavioural economist.
Loading the player...

Consumers don’t really want more nutritional information, they want an easy life, according to a behavioural economist talking at a conference in Brussels.

Speaking at the International Sweetener Association (ISA) Conference last week, Dr Nick Southgate, said that ‘shaping’ the world of consumers would be far more effective in trying to get people to make healthier food choices than trying to educate them on nutrition.

Southgate told FoodNavigator: “It’s a tricky thing where it leaves regulation but I think what people have to consider is that if you’re hoping you can just provide people with better information and educate them to make better choices, then you’ll be disappointed with the outcome. You’ll get some change but not nearly as much as you would have wanted.”

“Whereas if you start to shape the world so that it’s easier for people to make healthy decisions they will start to do it,” he said.

An easy life

He said that diet choices were not always processed on a conscious level. “We have to eat several times a day and we can’t be working that out like it’s solving a mathematical problem every time,” he said.

“We borrow our decisions – or the way I tend to put it we outsource it. So we just eat what’s normal, we eat what’s available, we eat what other people are eating, we eat what we know how to cook. So all of these are decisions not really made on a nutritional level.”

He said that the hope from public health officials may be that food choices are made on a conscious level, but in reality the vast majority of these decisions are made as a “second thought”.

Go with the flow

Picking up on thoughts by another speaker at the event, Professor James Hill, Southgate said that default healthy options could be worth consideration as it removed the choice for consumers who ultimately sought an easy shopping experience. Hill had mentioned food service initiatives in the US whereby customers were given the healthier option automatically unless they requested the unhealthier option which may be bigger or higher in salt, sugar or fat.

Southgate said this kind of technique could be effective as it was more of a “nudge” than a “shove” since it did not remove unhealthy options completely. Southgate told audiences that it would be more effective to “go with the flow of choices people make rather than trying to ‘correct’ their choices”.

FiE 2015: Our best bits

FiE 2015: Our best bits

Our teams of journalists were out in force at Food Ingredients Europe (FiE) last...

New tech on EFSA’s horizon: Crowdsourcing and cyber assistants

New tech on EFSA’s horizon: Crowdsourcing and cyber assistants

New technology like crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence computers is the future of risk assessment,...

Lab meat, plant proteins and insects: Which alternative proteins will feed the world?

Lab meat, plant proteins and insects: Which alternative proteins will feed the world?

The quest for alternatives to animal-derived proteins has led to a huge amount of...

Food firms should prepare for pre-recession spending

Prepare for pre-recession spend – top economist

Food manufacturers should prepare for a positive three years ahead, as the changing economy...

Creepy proteins will be hot

New proteins are creeping on trend

Alternative proteins are a “hot area” of interest and products such as sandwich spreads...

Salt reduction not a priority for UK consumers: LoSalt survey

Salt reduction not a priority for UK consumers, finds LoSalt survey

Caroline Klinge

sales and marketing manager, LoSalt

‘Nice wine, no corkscrew?’ Mirabeau En Provence wins 8m+ YouTube views

‘Nice wine, no corkscrew?’ Mirabeau En Provence solution strikes YouTube gold with 8 million+ views

Mirabeau En Provence owner Stephen Cronk says the desire for a direct consumer connection...

DSM claims craft brewer interest in gluten-free beer enzyme

DSM claims craft brewer interest in gluten-free beer enzyme

DSM Food Specialities claims that, far from being cautious, craft brewers are embracing the...

Smoothie brand Froosh warns of ‘social washing’ within supply chain

Smoothie brand Froosh warns of ‘social washing’ on supply chain sustainability

Scandinavia’s top-selling smoothie manufacturer Froosh has called for ‘trade not aid’ in developing countries...

Saturated fat guidelines out, food guidelines in?

Get rid of nutrients and focus on foods in guidelines, says sat fat researcher

Benoit Lamarche

Saturated fat researcher, Laval University

EU referendum: vote to stay, says Greencore boss

Four reasons to stay in the EU: Greencore boss

Four factors explain why the food and drink industry would be much better off...

Smart combinations: Juices blend fruit and vegetable ingredients for nutritional punch and flavor appeal

Smart combinations: Juices blend fruit and vegetable ingredients for nutritional punch and flavor appeal

Vegetable ingredients may boost the nutritional content of beverages: but when it comes to...

Refreshment and nutrition drive demand for vegetable ingredients

Refreshment and nutrition drive demand for vegetable ingredients

Vegetable ingredients are winning favor with consumers who value them as a healthy part...

Marketing to the ‘elderly'

Marketing to the ‘elderly’: Overcoming the taboo of getting old

There is a need for public health strategies and products to address Europe's rapidly...

What opportunities does the backlash against sugar create?

What opportunities does the backlash against sugar create?

From links with obesity and type 2 diabetes to government taxes, sugar is currently...

Eat with your eyes: Making sense of multi-sensory food

Eat with your eyes: Making sense of multi-sensory food

Food should taste and smell good but what else should and can it do...

The 4 biggest mistakes in healthy marketing

The 4 biggest mistakes in healthy marketing

The Healthy Marketing Team tells us what NOT to do when marketing a healthy...

How the food industry can boost consumer health

Three changes food industry must make to boost health

Food and drink manufacturers must make three changes across their businesses to help boost...

Food industry new starters offered top tip

Food business starters should be hungry for knowledge

Young people starting their food business careers should hungry for knowledge about the roles...

Key Industry Events