Friday, February 15, 2013

New publication on the effects of packaging on overeating

My latest paper "How Package Design and Packaged-based Marketing Claims Lead to Overeating," is now publicly available, free of charge, on the site of Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. You can download the pdf here.

Here is the abstract:

Because packaging reaches consumers at the critical moments of purchase and consumption, it has become an important marketing tool for food manufacturers and retailers. In this paper I review a number of published studies on marketing, nutrition and public health on the effects of packaging-based communication and design on perceptions of food and its consumption. I first review how the marketing, health and nutrition claims on packaging create “health halos” (i.e., make foods appear healthier than they are) lead to higher consumption yet lower perceived calorie intake. I then show how packaging cues, shapes and sizes bias people’s perception of quantity and increase their preference for supersized packages and portions that appear smaller than they are. Finally, I review the evidence on the effectiveness of public policies designed to limit the biasing effects of packaging on food perceptions and preferences.