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Paying Cash For Food Leads To Healthier Dietary Choices

October 6, 2010: 03:39 AM EST

A new U.S. study has found that the way consumers pay for food – either by cash or credit card – influences the kind of food they purchase: healthy or unhealthy. Researchers analyzed shopping behavior among 1,000 households for six months. They found that shoppers react to certain food items, mainly unhealthy ones like cookies, cakes and pies, impulsively. That impulse is more easily satisfied and becomes fairly painless when credit cards are used, but more difficult when cash is the only option. The researchers found that “shopping baskets have a larger proportion of food items rated as impulsive and unhealthy when shoppers use credit or debit cards to pay for the purchases.” Follow-up tests showed that the “pain” of paying with cash can restrain impulsive actions.

Manoj Thomas, et al., "How Credit Card Payments Increase Unhealthy Food Purchases: Visceral Regulation of Vices", Journal of Consumer Research, October 06, 2010, © Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.
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