In light of the current obesity epidemic, ample effort has been put into trying to help consumers make healthier eating choices. Commonly proposed strategies have been better food labeling and improved nutritional knowledge. However, according to a new study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, enhancing people’s ability to recognize their true emotions may be a far more powerful tool.
“We not only demonstrate that emotional ability is trainable and that food choices can be enhanced, but also that emotional ability training improves food choices beyond a nutrition knowledge training program, “ states one of the researchers, Blair Kidwell from Ohio State University.
The study consisted of a training period where the participants were taught to recognize basic emotions in themselves and others, followed by being exposed to different types of food and packaging where they were asked to pay attention to what they, and the other subjects were experiencing.
When later given the opportunity to choose a snack of either a healthy item or a chocolate bar, the subjects in the training condition were far more likely to choose the healthy snack, than those in the control condition. Furthermore, the participants who received the emotional training had on average lost weight when weighed three months later, whereas the control subjects actually seemed to have gained weight.
The researchers state how consumers are often mindless, and further encourage consumer educational programs to put more weight on emotional awareness, instead of the usual focus of improving nutritional labels.
“With a better understanding of how they feel and how to use emotions to make better decisions, people will not only eat better, they will also likely be happier and healthier because they relate better to others and are more concerned with their overall well-being.”
Read more about the study here!