When was the last time your reorganized your fridge? A new study in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that doing just that can be a big influence on making healthy food and beverage choices. And it’s not just a short-term weight loss tool; these benefits lasted for years.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital performed their experiment at the hospital’s cafeteria over the course of 18 months. They initially labeled all items for sale as green (healthy), yellow (less healthy), or red (unhealthy). They put green items on easy-to-reach shelves, at eye-level.
During the first six months, researchers found that sales of green items increased and red items decreased. They kept the placement of the food constant and at the end of 18 months, long after the novelty of traffic-light labeling would have worn off, sales remained the same. Placement of the healthy items at eye level is what made the difference.
“Making healthy items more visible and convenient for purchase, especially in the setting of a busy cafeteria, increases the likelihood that a customer with choose the healthier item as the ‘default,'” author Anne N. Thorndike, M.D., told SELF magazine. “For example, we placed baskets of bottled water at every food station so that a person ordering a sandwich or an entree would automatically pick up the water as their beverage, rather than going over to the refrigerator and getting tempted by sugar-sweetened sodas or juices.”
So how would that work in your own kitchen? Thorndike says, “If the carrot sticks are in the front of the refrigerator, you may be more likely to grab them as a snack than the chips hidden in a bottom drawer.”
Time to rethink where to put the sour cream!
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