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The Sound Bite | Nutrition news for a healthier you

Does this grocery cart make me look fat?

If you had to look at yourself in the mirror while shopping, would you make better choices?

By Linda Melone Aug 28, 2013 8:35PM

If you’re trying to eat more healthfully but the allure of the candy aisle still trumps the attraction of the produce section, the last thing you want is a mirror in front of your guilty face while you’re reaching for the bag of Twizzlers. At least, that’s what produce marketers hope.

In an effort to get Americans to put down the doughnut and steer their carts toward greener pastures, a couple of scientists thought it might help to put a giant mirror at the front of grocery carts — a mirror that says, “Yes, that’s you and only you who’s responsible for what you see right here.”

If you like what you see, congratulations. Fix your hair and get on with your shopping. But if that reality check isn’t too flattering, maybe it’s time to put a fruit or veggie in that cart and start making more healthful choices.

Researchers have discovered that people, in general, don’t like being hit on the head with threats of diabetes and slapped with taxes on junk food to get them to eat more healthfully. So instead, they’re using slightly subliminal tactics — and they work.

The mirror idea came about when Mihai Niculescu, 37, combined his business marketing experience with research done by others on self-image. He says his own formidable belly gave him an insider’s edge when studying the marketing cues that lead to overconsumption.

“I don’t realize I’m overweight until I look at myself,” he said in a story reported by The New York Times.

Niculescu and his colleague, Collin R. Payne, a 38-year old associate professor, are using this tactic, dubbed “nudge marketing,” to apply just the right amount of pressure — not too much, not too little — to steer shoppers in a better direction.

The effectiveness of the mirrors, currently being tested in Lowe’s grocery stores, remains unproven, but a similar tactic proved successful: A yellow strip of duct tape divided baskets in half, and a flyer instructed shoppers to place their fresh produce in the front half of the cart. The average produce sale more than doubled. In a separate experiment, green arrows on the floor successfully lured shoppers to the produce aisle.

While these tactics create positive results, be aware of similarly effective ploys that may steer you to the dark side: Displays that are free-standing, at the ends of aisles or at the checkout line can cause you to mindlessly buy extra liters of soda and bags of chips not on your list.

Avoid the mind games by making a list and sticking to it before you hit the store.

More from MSN Healthy Living:

Obese in America

Why women should shop in heels

The cleanest (and dirtiest) veggies

15Comments
Sep 4, 2013 8:38PM
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Hey, Linda...how 'bout I shop for what I want, and you mind your own business?
Sep 4, 2013 2:38PM
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I am so sick of the absolute paranoia regarding weight in this country. I have seen women diet themselves to death just to be part of the latest media driven fad. Let people be what they are and mind your own business. If looking like a walking corpse is your thing--go for it. . Not everyone looks good ultra thin or even thinner than they are now. Please don't tell me that thin people don't have cancer or heart attacks or any of the other catastrophic diseases--I know better. In addition they also suffer from bulimia and anorexia. Skinny underweight is just as unattractive and someone who is obese--and by the way not everyone who is large is stuffing their faces all day either. Maybe if your recipes for " healthy food" were as tasty as some of the things that you classify as unhealthy , people just might choose them. Cardboard tasting, salt free  and sugarless  food isn't going to attract anyone  to the program, and until you can make a lousy string bean taste like chocolate--you won't have many takers. Bug off and leave people make their own decisions. Stop trying to dictate personal behavior. Go back to your gyms and worship your perfect bodies like many of you do, tell yourselves how wonderful and beautiful you are and be happy.
Sep 4, 2013 7:42AM
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SOME EXPERTS PUT A MIRROR IN FRONT OF YOU WHILE YOU SHOP. LETS GET THIS RIGHT. PEOPLE EAT WHAT THEY WANT WHEN THEY WANT AND HOW MUCH THEY WANT. IF THEY DROP DEAD BECAUSE OF HEALTH PROBLEMS THEY HAVE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME NOT CORPORATIONS AND STORES AND FREE TOYS GIVEN TO KIDS. IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD IS OVER WEIGHT BLAME YOURSELF NOT SOCIETY. STOP WITH ALL OF THIS BLAME GAME. GROW UP PEOPLE. THANKS FOR THE SPACE CORAVETTE.
Sep 12, 2013 4:59PM
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SERIOUSLY??? You think I don't already know I'm fat? What the hell is a mirror going to do?
Sep 5, 2013 2:44AM
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Mind games don't work on me. I know what I need and I stick to that. I might put in a bag of hershey kisses with the rest of the groceries but I don't even go through a bag of them in a month. Mostly what goes in my cart is what I need to survive.
Sep 12, 2013 5:33PM
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instead of  a stupid iPhone, use an iMirror! Ha.     iDiot phones. You look like idiots using those adult babysitters. Who the hell wants to carry around a mini TV or computer or wear a stupid iWatch on your wrist. What a stupid idea. Stop it. Act human for a change.
Sep 4, 2013 9:33PM
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It's all about Natura Selection. Just think about it. All the obese and unhealthy people will die younger and so will their offspring if they follow their paths. In a few years only those that maintained a healthy lifestyle will survive. Of course there are illnesses to account for but pretty much that is what will happen. Maybe it's happening for a reason. The world is just too overpopulated.
Sep 12, 2013 6:48PM
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I go to my local supermarket because I can get in and out quickly and buy what I need. 

P!ss me off and and I will go somewhere else.

It is very simple.
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