Two observational studies examining the effect of a social norm and a health message on the purchase of vegetables in student canteen settings.

Abstract

There is some evidence from laboratory-based studies that descriptive social-norm messages are associated with increased consumption of vegetables, but evidence of their effectiveness in real-world settings is limited. In two observational field studies taking an ecological approach, a vegetable-related social norm (e.g. "Did you know that most students here choose to eat vegetables with their meal?"), and a health message (e.g. "Did you know that students who choose to eat vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease?") were displayed in two different student canteens. Purchases were observed during three stages: baseline, intervention (when the posters were displayed) and immediate post-intervention (when the posters had been removed). Study 1 (n = 7598) observed the purchase of meals containing a portion of vegetables and Study 2 (n = 4052) observed the purchase of side portions of vegetables. In Study 1, relative to baseline, the social-norms intervention was associated with an increase in purchases of vegetables (from 63% to 68% of meals; OR = 1.24, CI = 1.03-1.49), which was sustained post-intervention (67% of meals; OR = 0.96, CI = 0.80-1.15). There was no effect of the health message (75% of meals at baseline, and 74% during the intervention; OR = 0.98, CI = 0.83-1.15). In Study 2, relative to baseline, there was an effect of both the social norm (22.9% of meals at baseline, rising to 32.5% during the intervention; OR = 1.62, CI = 1.27-2.05) and health message (rising from 43.8% at baseline to 52.8%; OR = 0.59, CI = 0.46-0.75). The increase was not sustained post-intervention for the social norm intervention (22.1%; OR = 0.59, CI = 0.46-0.75), but was sustained for the health intervention (48.1%; OR = 0.83, CI = 0.67-1.02). These results support further testing of the effectiveness of such messages in encouraging healthier eating and indicate the need for larger-scale testing at multiple sites using a randomised-controlled design.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.09.024
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Applied Health Research Group
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Descriptive norm,Field study,Healthy eating,Social norms,Vegetables,Psychology(all),Nutrition and Dietetics
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.sci ... 5890?via%3Dihub (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-01-01
Published Online Date: 2018-10-01
Accepted Date: 2018-09-29
Authors: Collins, Emily
Thomas, Jason ( 0000-0001-7013-8994)
Robinson, Eric
Aveyard, Paul
Jebb, Susan
Herman, Peter
Higgs, Suzanne

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