Healthy-Shopping Dynamics:                                                                   The Origin of Healthy Shopping Baskets


MSI Grant for Koert van Ittersum and Tammo Bijmolt to conduct research on healthy-shopping dynamics.


Over the past three decades, the global overweight and obesity rates have increased by 27.5% among adults and 47.1% among children and adolescents. Being overweight or obese puts people at risk for chronic diseases, directly affecting their personal well-being and resulting in huge societal costs. The obesity epidemic is largely driven by the overconsumption of unhealthy foods, energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods high in (saturated) fat, sugar, and salt. Given that supermarkets account for up to 75% of household food purchases, the grocery purchase process is pivotal to curbing the obesity epidemic. 


Existing knowledge of the grocery purchase process is ineffective, possibly even counterproductive, in curbing the obesity epidemic. This may be due to systematic and nonlinear patterns in the ‘healthiness’ of sequential food purchases that are driven by an interdependence in the healthiness of these purchases. With the (un)healthiness of food purchases being dependent on the healthiness of preceding purchases, the benefits of healthy purchases (fruit, low fat, low sugar) may be eliminated by consecutive unhealthy purchases (snacks, cookies, regular chips).


Without understanding healthy-shopping dynamics, well-intended actions by food manufacturers, retailers, and policy makers, taking (corporate) responsibility to improve consumer diets, may (in fact) backfire and augment obesity. The main objective of this proposal is to investigate the presence, nature, and drivers of healthy-shopping dynamics during major grocery shopping trips and how these determine the healthiness of the end-of-trip shopping basket.


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