Social norms paper highlighted in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Posted on Monday 17th February 2014

A recent paper by Dr Suzanne Higgs and Jason Thomas was highlighted in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the authors were invited to produce an accompanying podcast. The review article found strong evidence that information about what other people eat has a powerful effect on food intake and food choice. For example, being told that other people eat healthily increases the likelihood that study participants select fruit and veg to eat.

According to Suzanne “Our work shows that knowledge of what and how much other people eat, affects our own eating behaviour. This is particularly important at a time when there is an increasing emphasis on encouraging people to adopt healthier eating habits”. The evidence suggests that social norms can be used to promote the selection of nutritious foods such as fruit and vegetables. Suzanne and Jason are now focussing on developing a healthy eating intervention. In the invited podcast, Jason states that “Our goal is to use social norm messages in cafeterias, in supermarkets, where ever people may select or consume food, to facilitate healthy choices”.

The paper ‘What Everyone Else Is Eating: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Informational Eating Norms on Eating Behavior’ was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and has been covered by the national press. It was co-authored by Dr Eric Robinson from the University of Liverpool and Professor Paul Aveyard from the University of Oxford.

Read the full article