Primed to Eat: Susceptibility to Healthy Hints


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Nutrition Battles: healthy choices can be primed: Image by Steven De Polo

In a natural setting, simply reminding grocery shoppers of healthy eating by using subtle goal primes, such as handing out healthy recipes, leads to more nutritious purchases.

According to the study, using primes is “unobtrusive, easy to implement, and low in cost” which makes them perfect for use by cash-strapped public health initiatives.

Healthy Eating: Interview With Dr. Papies

Decoded Science asked Dr. Papies: [s]ince toxic environments are so ubiquitious, do you have real hope that positive  diet primes can make an impact?

Her reply was enlightening.

According to Dr. Papies:  “[w]e need all the help we can get from our environment to empower individuals who are concerned with their weight to make healthier choices, despite the abundance of tasty food primes in our daily lives. Only small  amounts of reductions in calories are needed per individual per day to stop the rise of obesity, so any single decision that is made healthier by relevant cues  helps. Therefore, I find incorporating subtle diet goal reminders in food choice  settings very important, since it empowers individuals who are highly motivated  to make healthy choices to actually do so.”

Small reminders may be the stealth weapon that we need to win the battle of the bulge.


Papies, E. et al. Subtle goal reminders, known as primes, can offset hedonic effects of food and facilitate health behavior. Society for the Sudy of Ingestive Behavior, presented July 10, 2012 at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB).

Papies, E., Hamstra, P. Goal Priming and Eating Behavior: Enhancing Self-Regulation by Environmental Cues. (2010). Health Psychology,  Vol. 29, No. 4, 384–388. American Psychological Association. Accessed July 13, 2012.

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