Plain food packing linked to increased snacking

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th January 2016

ChocolateIn the first academic study into the effects of plain packaging unhealthy has found that removing labelling and advertising could in fact increase consumption of these types of foods.


Conducted by researchers from a number or institutions including Grenoble Ecole de Management in France and published in Volume 49 of the Food and Quality Preference Journal, the study was broken down into three components in order to ask the following questions:


  1. Would plain packaging make someone less likely to purchase an unhealthy food item?
  2. Would plain packaging decrease the chances of someone consuming an unhealthy food item?
  3. If a food package was plain but contained the phrase “low-fat” how much would someone eat of that food?


A total of 342 participants were involved in all three parts of the study. The participants were a mix of male and female business school students.


Perhaps unsurprisingly the scientists discovered when the participants were presented with both plain and normal packaged food (M&M’s) the students were more driven to purchase the non-plain packaged item.


Once the students had the food however, the male students ate more from the plain packaged option than from the packaged one. The female students also ate more M&M’s from the plain package which just stated that it was “low-fat” than the regular packaged option.


In drawing their conclusions from the study the scientists said the tendency for the men to eat more could be because “deactivating the marketing components of an unhealthy snack packaging deactivates the inhibition system associated with it.”


The scientists have recommended further studies occur before definitive conclusions can be drawn.