Thursday, May 16, 2013

Myth: Shopping while I’m hungry doesn’t really affect what I buy.

grocery store aisle
Answer: BUSTED!

Cornell researchers recently looked at this. They had 68 adults shop in a simulated online grocery store. Half hadn’t eaten and the other half were given a snack before shopping. Those who hadn’t eaten chose more high-calorie foods than the other group. The researchers then observed 82 people shopping at a grocery store after lunch and in the hours right before dinner. The shoppers bought more higher-calorie food when it was closer to dinner time, suggesting that they were hungrier at this time of the day.

Not shopping when you’re hungry is a tip often suggested to help cut down on impulse buying. It appears that impulse buys could include purchases of high-calorie foods.

You may not be aware of the different ways that grocery stores are set up to drive your purchases. Keep these in mind during your next trip to the grocery store:

  • Foods in displays at the entrance of the store and at the end of aisles tend to catch your attention. They may or may not be healthy foods or good buys or even what you need.
  • Foods found in the first four feet of an aisle sell more than foods in other places. Are these foods your healthiest choices, the best buy or what you need at the moment?
  • Foods at eye level sell more, too. Check to see if a healthier or cheaper product is available on a lower shelf.

For more food shopping tips, check out Squeezed by rising food prices? on

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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