designed-with-health-in-mind-large-768x795People eat for a whole host of reasons – because they are hungry, bored, excited, sad, celebrating or feel they deserve a treat. They eat out of habit, or because food is put in front of them. Our relationship with food is complex. It is a vital part of everyday life and an integral part of culture. But what and how much we eat can depend on a variety of factors. And in an age of convenience and an abundance of food, we’re eating ourselves to ill health

63% of the UK adult population, one quarter of 2-10 year olds and one third of 11-15 year olds are overweight or obese. According to the World Health Organization, dietary/lifestyle related diseases are becoming the biggest threat to human health. The annual economic impact of obesity in the UK is estimated at £46 billion.

Yet with 1 in 6 meals and ¼ of calories consumed outside of the home, what is the industry doing to ensure it plays its part in tackling the crisis?

I was lucky enough that Footprint Intelligence was commissioned to conduct a piece of independent research on how to use the psychology of healthier eating to encourage consumers to eat more healthily in foodservice by Compass Group UK & Ireland so this is a topic I have been able to explore in great depth.

This is because the obesity figures show that willpower and information is not enough. However, research has shown that it is surprisingly easy to influence what people choose, and how much they eat if only you know how. Many of these changes can be nudges that guide people towards making better choices, in the way white lines painted on roads unconsciously nudge drivers into driving more safely.

Nudges that encourage healthier behaviours in foodservice include changing things like the portion or plate size, which products are within eye line and the way food is positioned and presented. They can also include environmental factors like lighting and music. Yet whilst many foodservice providers have been busy reformulating products, recipes and menus, only a few leaders have considered how psychological approaches can help make people healthier.

This research report outlines the innovative ways in which foodservice can use psychology to help customers make healthier choices, thereby creating a roadmap to a healthier future.

By understanding what works and by sharing best practice, the goal is to make the strategies that work widespread in foodservice.

Read the full report on the Footprint website here: Designed with Health in Mind. And let me know what you think, of course!