Nudged to the Produce Aisle by a Look in the Mirror

The New York Times:

Samuel Pulido walked into his local grocery store on a sweltering day, greeted by cool air and the fantasy-world ambience of the modern supermarket.

Soft music drifted. Neon-bright colors turned his head this way and that. “WOW!!!” gasped the posters hanging from entranceway racks, heralding the sugary drinks, wavy chips and Berry Colossal Crunch being thrust his way.

Then he looked down at his grocery cart and felt quite a different tug. Inside the front of the buggy, hooked onto its red steel frame, was a mirror. It stretched nearly a foot across, and as Mr. Pulido gripped the cart a little more tightly, it filled with the reflection of his startled face.

“I think what they’re doing is very innovative and clever,” said Michael R. Lowe, a Drexel University psychology professor and longtime researcher on weight control. “If you put up some cues that remind people of their weight or healthy eating, without hitting them over the head, they will go and choose healthier items. The mirror might do that, but the question will be, ‘What kind of memory association will their body elicit?’ And that is hard to know beforehand. For those who are overweight, it might elicit the sense of, ‘Oh, I need to lose weight.’ Or, ‘I don’t like to see myself because I’m so big,’ which might lead to choosing healthier food.”

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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